Gays have become the scapegoats for destitution
Ebenezer Obadare reflects on the issues underlying attacks on gays in African countries @ New Humanist.
A spectre is haunting Africa – the spectre of homosexuality. Over the past decade, a curious and totally unlikely coalition of religious leaders, the ruling class and sections of the mainstream media has launched a vigorous campaign against homosexuality and perceived homosexuals. Trading in the most spiteful rhetoric and symbols imaginable, members of this alliance have sung from the same hymnal, affirming, implausibly, that homosexuality is a recent import into Africa and that homosexuals are responsible for the continent’s postcolonial throes. Not unpredictably, the alliance’s investment in hate has yielded bountiful dividends of violence and murder. In January, the Ugandan teacher and gay rights activist David Kato was murdered by yet unidentified assailants after a national news magazine in the country “outed” (Kato never attempted to hide sexual orientation) him as gay and openly urged his execution. Ugandan police were suspiciously quick to blame his death on a botched robbery operation.African countries, to be sure, are not unique in this assault on perceived sexual deviance. Western countries may have instituted a raft of legal measures to protect sexual minorities, but such legal protection often has to contend with deeply rooted cultural antipathy. The truth is that even in the West, the struggle for sexual parity is unfinished, a fact the ongoing battle over same-sex marriage in the United States amply illustrates.read more