Article written

  • on 08.03.2014
  • at 04:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Africa has always been more Queer than generally acknowledged 0

On 13 January 2014, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill against gay relationships, outlawing gay marriage, public displays of same-sex relationships, and membership in gay groups.

A few days later, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni refused to sign an anti-homosexuality bill that has been in the works since 2009 on the grounds that there are other ways of dealing with ‘an abnormal person.’ Pondering the issue earnestly, he wrote: ‘Do we kill him/her? Do we imprison him/her?’ The ‘soft,’ revised ‘Kill the Gays Bill,’ as it is commonly nicknamed in the media, which has transformed the death penalty into incarceration, has caused substantial aid cuts, especially from European countries like Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands. One expects other Western countries to follow suit. Museveni is not alone in figuring out how to hang dissenters. In the wake of the trial for ‘sodomy’ of the first president of Zimbabwe, Canaan Banana, his successor Robert Mugabe spoke of homosexuals in his 2002 campaign speech as ‘mad person[s]’ who will be sent to jail: ‘we don’t want to import it [homosexuality] to our country [Zimbabwe], we have our own culture, our own people’ (quoted in the Herald, Harare, Zimbabwe, 6 March 2002). 86 United Nations member countries have laws that criminalize same-sex relations; some 37 African countries, along with Middle Eastern countries, constitute a majority of those so that it is dangerous and even life-threatening to be out in Africa.

Homosexuality, itself a slippery contender finding its roots in nineteenth-century medical literature, is still thought to be quintessentially ‘un-African’—recall Winnie Mandela’s supporters displaying for the cameras in 1991 outside the Johannesburg Supreme Court placards declaring that ‘HOMOSEX IS NOT IN BLACK CULTURE.’ However, South African Bishops were the only ones among African Anglican bishops not to defeat ‘resolutions’ (section I.10 on ‘Human Sexuality’) to improve the Church of England’s attitudes toward homosexuality at the 1998 decennial Lambeth Conference. It remains that the Church, especially in its Evangelical garb, is always ready to identify homosexuality as an abomination to God. American film-maker Roger Ross Williams, director of God Loves Uganda (2013), speculates that “Americans are behind” this Evangelical frenzy against such abominations as same-sex sex in a country that happens to be one of the top 3 in the world to assiduously watch gay internet porn.

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By Chantal ZabusAfrica is a country 

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