Is homosexuality African? PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 04 September 2011 18:10
homosexuals 3.jpgBy Walter Chari

Homosexuality and same sex marriages have become hot subjects in Africa. It has also become an emotional issue to such an extent that some gays have been arrested and beaten up while some Heads of State have come out in the open declaring gays as persona non grata.

In 2008, Gambia’s President, Yahya Jammeh threatened to behead homosexuals in that country.

In Malawi, the first gay couple to  publicly declare their  status were arrested and sentenced to 14 years in jail after “tying  the knot” in 2009. However, they were later released following the intervention of President Bingu wa Mutharika through a presidential pardon. Others believe that the Malawian leader came under donor pressure to help the couple, though ultimately this did not really help because donors have pulled out of the country nonetheless.

President Robert Mugabe has been particularly scathing in his assessment of homosexuality and those who practice it. He has been quoted saying of the subject.
“(It) degrades human dignity. It’s unnatural, and there is no question ever of allowing these people to behave worse than dogs and pigs. If dogs and pigs do not do it, why must human beings?
“We have our own culture, and we must rededicate ourselves to our traditional values that make us human beings...What we are being persuaded to accept is sub- animal behaviour and we will never allow it here. If you see people parading themselves as lesbians and gays, arrest them and hand them over to the police.”

Western sponsored Non Governmental Organisations have been at the forefront of getting Africa and its governments to accept homosexuality as something of a personal choice and thus a human right. South Africa recognises gay rights, but this has not resulted in a corresponding acceptance of the practice as homosexuals are the frequent subjects of attacks within their communities. 

African culture and philosophy dictates that life and reproduction of life sit at the core of human society. This means that men and women should have children, thereby creating a community and continuity. As such, these beliefs do not accommodate homosexuality because the practice has no room for reproduction and continuity of the human race.

Some NGOs and activists maintain that this is a human rights issue but this has failed to gain much currency within the generality of African society, which largely remains very conservative on matters of sexuality. homosexuals 1.jpg

Over the past months, Zimbabwe has been working on a draft of a new constitution and to that end, officials have been going around the country soliciting for people’s views on various subjects for inclusion in the proposed supreme law. One of the issues that came up was that of gay rights.

President Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has always been clearly and openly opposed to gay rights and this is in line with the general sentiment among Zimbabweans.

At the same time, the other major political party, MDC-T, has built its platform on opposing Zanu PF policy positions. But they had a hard time enunciating their position on gay rights during the constitution outreach programme. On the other hand, their liberal leaning would make it natural to support gay rights and thus maintain their anti- Zanu PF position, but doing so would alienate a huge section of the Zimbabwean electorate. Up to today, the party has a hard time in publicly defining its position on the issue.

Furthermore, the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe split in 2007 after the then Archbishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, said he could not allow homosexuality to be recognised in the institution. He went on to form the Anglican Church of the province of Central Africa after some powerful figures in the church appeared to be intent on actively promoting homosexuality. The church remains split today and there are little prospects of reunion. In fact, the Anglican Church worldwide is in a crisis over gay rights and more such schisms are expected over the coming years.  

In Uganda in 2007, the legislators were unanimous in crafting an Anti- Homosexuality Bill that would criminalise the same sex marriages. They wanted to impose the death sentence on those who break the law, while for ‘touching another person with homosexual intent,’ a perpetrator could expect a length jail term.

Thomosexuals 2.jpghat law caused quite an uproar among activists but as is usual with such matters, very little media space was given to those Ugandans opposed to homosexuality to air their views. All you will ever hear are the voices of the NGO projects.

So is homosexuality ‘African’? Should the rest of the African nations follow an example set by the South African government that legalised same sex marriages on November 30, 2006? What role do churches play in this whole debate? Some critics have said it is naive for Africans to accept same sex marriages as constitutional when the demand is made by Westerners and yet those same Westerners abhor polygamy and call Africans backward for recognising it. If they cannot accept our culture, why should we accept theirs?

African governments should be firm on those NGOs and their sponsors who are trying to promote homosexuality and are actively encouraging our children to accept and therefore practice such things.

Homosexuality remains an aberration in many African communities and as such, enacting laws recognising gay rights would be an academic exercise as these would not be respected by the generality of the population.

More so, any politician who publically declares support for gay rights in conservative Africa risks throwing away his or her career.

Africa’s revulsion of homosexuality is not just based on traditional cultural practices but on Biblical and Islamic cultural practices and teachings as well since a large proportion of the continent follows one form of religion (Christianity or Islam) or another.    

The article has also appeared in the Southern Times
Comments (6)Add Comment
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written by I.t, December 25, 2013
Notice how only whites would viciously defend homosexuality, this concerns Africans and Africans say to it, if you want to be homosexual, feel free but do it outside of Africa.
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written by Patrick owoleke, November 28, 2011
Such act is unhuman. I can't even say it is animanistic becouse, animal never do such. Stop.
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written by ricky, September 28, 2011
Zimbabweans stance on Homosexuality is smacked with bigotry and double standards. To my fellow learned collegue who wrote this article am appalled by your shallowness and lack of insight. Firstly Homosexuality is not a western concept as historians have shown us time and again that it existed in African societies(reference Hungochani :the history of dissident sexuality in southern Africa)please read this book before you write such fallacious articles. Funny how you are so quick to invoke the argument of the Bible as long as gays are concerned but on other issues you don't refer to the bible. If we as a nation are to move into a new constitutional democracy then homosexuality will be afforded legal recognition because all pro-homo arguments are far better than this mediocrity of an opinion you expressed here. With all due respect my learned collegue you are inciting homophobia which is a far serious problem than homosexuality. You can not run away from the fact that gay people are there in Zimbabwe (evident by the recent Herald reporter saga) and writing such misguided articles may lead to the killing of defenseless weak gay population. instead of criminalizing homosexuality i think we should incriminate incitement because we cannot allow people who incite violence by hate speech as you did above. My final word to you dear brother let us celebrate diversity, promoting equality, non discrimination and protection to the weak in our society.
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written by Petermbr, September 20, 2011
Africans seem to be under the misguided opinion that homosexuality is in some way a "western" concept. This is utter nonsense as homosexual behaviour has been reported in cave drawings thousands of years old. Africa should also remember that before christianity (was brought) to Africa, voodoo and cannibalism were rife, and just because there were no recorded incidents of homosexuality, does not mean it was not already there in some form. To be honest, wearing a suit and tie is not African, but everyone (including Mugagbe) seems to be doing it, so defining something as western/african is not a good starting point. Polygamy is all about a man having his cake and eat it. There is absolutely no need for a man to have multiple wives and children (creating even more children he cannot support). This is not about tradition, this is about selfish men unable to keep their trousers zipped, not to mention the medical implications of having multiple partners. Africa is dying in a pool of HIV infected women and children for the simple fact that men there are incapable of staying faithful to one partner.
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written by weez, September 12, 2011
Africans shuld not follow this western culture of tolerating gays because it is un Godly.remember what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah
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