How not to explain African homophobia

Published: May 24, 2010

How not to explain African homophobia

In a recent article on "African homophobia", Madeleine Bunting opens with the claim that there is “rightly huge concern and anger in the west at the recent increased homophobia in Africa.” This inauspicious opening leads to a series of claims that purport to explain “African homophobia.” I have no doubt that Bunting has good intentions, but I want to respond to her article as a Kenyan intellectual and as a scholar trained in gender and sexuality, in short, as precisely the kind of African intellectual whose presence is sorely lacking from her article.

We might begin with the expression of concern that opens the article, and that strange word “rightly.” I am puzzled at why there is “rightly huge concern and anger in the west” about homophobia. Puzzled because “the west” has been “rightly” concerned about everything in Africa for as long as I can remember: women’s roles, AIDS, polygamy, corruption, disease, hunger.

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