We need to move beyond characterizing same-sex relationships in Africa as "un-African".
¨Homophobic individuals often argue that homosexuality is a ‘foreign scourge’ imported to Africa by white ne’er do wells intent on corrupting the continent’s young minds and morals. They claim that there is no word for homosexual in African local languages. Evidence to the contrary, however, is widely published and it is well established that these arguments are unfounded...Despite great progress since the last conference, HERE many repeated the default position that homosexuality is ‘un-African’, prompting Sylvia Tamale’s sarcastic response that if we are to criminalise anything that we deem ‘un-African’, then we should criminalise perms, chemically treated hair, or the dying of hair in unnatural colours, such as the purple being worn proudly by one of the conference participants to express her homophobic sentiments.¨
In reality labeling homosexuality African or un-African completely misses the main point. The Psychological Society of South Africa articulates the main point: "The scientific fields devoted to mental health and well-being, including psychiatry, psychology and sociology, do not consider homosexual orientation to be a disorder, but rather view it as a naturally occurring variation of normal human sexuality. HERE
We need to stop denying the existence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Africa.
Homosexuality is a part of our society and must be acknowledged. Compulsory heterosexuality is not a cure for homosexuality.
Homosexuality is part of African society simply because it is a naturally occurring variation of human sexuality. This is the same reason homosexuality is part of all human societies.
Even beyond a commitment to human rights, we need to understand that criminalizing same sex relationships will increase the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa.
The war on HIV/AIDS cannot be waged effectively without taking LGBT rights into consideration. LGBT individuals are already ‘at risk’ populations, as far as HIV/AIDS programming is concerned. Criminalisation pushes the LGBT movement underground, leading people to conceal their HIV status.
As Victor Mukasa of IGLHRC pointed out, ‘this state of affairs threatens to roll back the gains made so far in the fight against HIV/AIDS.’ Meanwhile, David Kuria highlighted that in Kenya ‘at least 60 per cent of men who have sex with men (MSM) are also in heterosexual relationships in Kenya’, with implications for the management and funding of HIV prevention and treatment programmes. But it is basic human rights that are at the heart of the debate, Kuria said, quoting Navi Pillay's 2009 World Human Rights Day speech: ‘To criminalise people on the basis of colour or gender is now unthinkable in most countries. Discrimination feeds mistrust, resentment, violence, crime and insecurity and makes no economic sense, since it reduces productivity. It has no beneficial aspects for society whatsoever.
David Kuria's statement, "At least 60 per cent of men who have sex with men (MSM) are also in heterosexual relationships in Kenya", should give anyone working to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa pause. To get a better sense of the dynamics of bisexual concurrency and practices in Africa, be sure to read this PowerPoint presentation from the conference: Rates of Bisexual Concurrency and Bisexual Practices Among Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM) in Abuja, Nigeria. HERE
· Thanks to The Forth Annual Conference on Sexual Health and Rights, Ethiopia
· Thanks to Pambazuka
· Thanks to African Activist
· Thanks to David Kuria, Kenya
· Thanks to Psychological Society of South Africa
· Thanks to Professor Sylvia Tamale, Uganda
· Thanks to Rates of Bisexual Concurrency and Bisexual Practices, Nigeria
· Thanks to Navi Pillay's 2009 World Human Rights Day speech
· Thanks to Amplifying Africa's LGBTI Voices
· Thanks to Victor Mukasa of IGLHRC
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