Sunday, 23 February 2014

Africa: More Homophobic Than Antarctica

Simon Lokodo cannot imagine kissing a man. "I think I shall die," he said last week. "I would not exist. It is inhuman. I would be mad. Just imagine eating your faeces."

Lokodo is "ethics and integrity" minister in Uganda and a champion of the country's swingeing anti-homosexuality bill, which looked set to become law on Sunday until President Yoweri Museveni halted it, pending scientific advice. The delay was a small victory for activists dismayed a week ago when Museveni insisted that he would approve the legislation. That news prompted Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, to tweet: "In name of Africa culture Uganda Pres will sign anti-gay law pushed by US evangelists toughening British colonial ban."

In 140 characters, Roth encapsulated a broad sweep of history and geography and one of the central paradoxes of Africa's new war on gay and lesbian people. It is a war marked by political opportunism, biblical fundamentalism and a clash between cultural relativism and universal human rights. But it is also a measure of conservatives' anxiety that every day more and more African homosexuals are coming out and losing their fear. Western liberals eager to see the best in Africa must face an inconvenient truth: this is the most homophobic continent on Earth. Same-sex relations are illegal in 36 of Africa's 55 countries, according to Amnesty International, and punishable by death in some states. Now a fresh crackdown is under way.

A lengthy, thoughtful article.
Though its main thrust - that African homophobia is a legacy of Western colonialism, that's now being stirred up by American evangelical Christians - is simplistic and has become a media trope/truism.
For they are but passive agents, and all they have was given by us?
Further, it seems odd, cruelly ironic and rather insulting, that David Smith does not interview any LGBT Africans.
They do exist, and are campaigning in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda... *
Why are they not allowed a voice, why can they not speak for themselves?
Smith does however talk to that well-known self-appointed expert on Africa, and indeed on all things gay, Peter Tatchell.
It seems the colonial mindset still has quite a hold.

'The colonized is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to his adoption of the mother country's cultural standards' Frantz Fanon.

Saint Peter has started talking up his affiliations with the UK-based African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group. 
If so, why didn't he tell The Observer to talk to from someone from there?
Someone who knows what it's like to be black and African now.
Unless he just uses them for self-promoting photo-opportunities?

* Sexual Minorities Uganda. 


  1. The influence of US evangelicals is in fact well documented - recall George Bush administration aid being linked to abstinence only programmes; the involvement of Rick Warren and numerous other mega church pastors; and then the arrival of Scott Lively and others in 2009 - has documented this and the early appeals of LGBT Ugandans, ignored by the Anglican communion, the Commonwealth etc while clerics and pastors in the country (Ssempa, Bahati etc) and the media stirred up the hate.


    1. Yes, it is.
      I wasn't saying it's a myth, just that it may be being talked up, ignoring other factors.

  2. Well, I suggest it's been insufficiently talked up: various celebrity pastors were fawned over by not only Bush but Clinton and Obama. Their reputation to launch themselves internationally was made for them. At the same time, Warren could get away with spewing homophobic hate on the same podium as Ugandan pastors and politicians, and then go back to the US to lead the inaugural prayer when Obama was sworn in, no questions asked. The Vatican's role can't be forgotten either.

    We can't ignore other factors, true: arguably the Musaveni regime and others have been able to survive because of the billions poured into Uganda, by Obama as well as Bush, in the name of the war on terror (my enemy's enemy etc). The money of course has lined pockets and propped up a corrupt regime, that really has run out of excuses, 'but for the gays'.

  3. Homosexuality is a western concept. In Africa people don't consider themselves heterosexual or homosexual, therefore homophobia doesn't exist.