The Colonial Roots of African Nationalist Homophobia

Madness and Monsters

LGBTI, Africa from Eusebius McKaiser, click-through to link

Aggressive homophobia has become a distressingly familiar trope in African nationalist rhetoric.  A recent surge in anti-gay legislation across the continent has attracted media and activist attention, from the imprisonment of the Malawian gay couple in 2010 to Uganda’s ‘kill the gays’ law, as well as draft legislation in Nigeria and Cameroon.  Homophobia is characterised as a defence of African cultural authenticity—and has been too easily taken by horrified Western onlookers as proof of African barbarism.  The roots of this African nationalist homophobia can be traced, however, to the apparently opposed ideologies of colonial and white settler regimes, particularly in southern Africa.  These intertwined ideologies have not only helped to impose harsh heterosexist strictures; they have also had dangerous misogynist implications, where ‘loose’ women are as much to be feared and repressed as ‘effeminate’ men.

“Homosex is not in black culture”: so read a…

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