Will Africa be the last refuge of homophobia?

While the LGBT community is making headway in gaining acceptance in the western hemisphere, things are still bleak in the rest of the world. It looks like the nations in the continents of Africa (with the exception of South Africa where same sex marriage is legal) and Asia and the Middle East may well end up being the last to accept the reality.

According to The Council for Global Equality, homosexuality is still illegal in 37 countries on the African continent. Things are also pretty bad in Asia, with almost all countries (India and Thailand being notable exceptions) making it illegal. And most of the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (with the notable exceptions of Israel, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, and Iraq) have also declared it illegal.

While Muslims and Christians may be killing each other in various parts of Africa, the one thing that seems to bring them together is their deep antipathy to homosexuality. Both Muslim and Christian religious leaders are digging in their heels and arguing that acceptance should be rejected since it goes against their religion and traditions.

Sheikh Saliou Mbacke, a Senegalese Muslim leader who coordinates the Interfaith Action for Peace in Africa, said faith leaders have the duty to speak out, especially if outside forces want to impose their will.

“The subject of homosexuality must not be used as a tool to blackmail and coerce society to defy God’s command, which is more important than any world power,” he said. “We will oppose any manner of arm-twisting that threatens us to embrace it in our societies.”

In Nairobi, Roman Catholic Cardinal John Njue voiced similar concerns, and said Africans must be allowed to forge their own consensus on the subject.

“I think we need to act according to our own traditions and even our own faiths,” he said. “This is very important. We have to be proud of who we are.”

Yes, these people are proud of being bigoted.


  1. dano says

    You can also be called a bigot for hating those that following their religion in knowing that homosexuality is a sin.

  2. Chiroptera says

    Actually, bigotry would be hating every single Christian because some of them are homophobic bigots.

    You welcome.

  3. Kimpatsu says

    “Things are also pretty bad in Asia, with almost all countries (India and Thailand being notable exceptions) making it illegal.”
    It’s not illegal in Japan, South Korea, or even China any more, Mano, but in Japan at least, gay people are still expected to marry and have children, because this is seen as a duty rather than marrying for love.

  4. Corvus illustris says

    … the LGBT community is making headway in gaining acceptance in the western hemisphere …

    But if you follow the link, you see a surprising list of homophobic jurisdictions in the Caribbean, plus Belize on the CAm mainland. Because the island countries’ economies are so dependent on tourism, I would have expected the homophobia to be muted at the very least. Cf. the town nearest to where I live, whose economy is very much dependent on tourism and which passed a very strong anti-discrimination ordinance in the teeth of fundie & RC opposition. (The GOTea reponse was a proposal in the MI legislature for state preëmption of local anti-discrimination ordinances. Of course, that could backfire on them at a later date.)

  5. Chiroptera says

    The GOTea reponse was a proposal in the MI legislature for state preëmption of local anti-discrimination ordinances.

    Ah, yes, the party of local government.

    Of course, that could backfire on them at a later date.

    Like when they get hit with Romer v Evans (which declared as unconstitutional Colorado’s attempt to pre-empt local anti-discrimination ordinances.)

  6. slc1 says

    Surprisingly enough, it appears that Vietnam may be the first nation in East Asia to recognize same sex marriage.

  7. Mano Singham says

    Good point. I was looking at the list where it was illegal and trying to think of the gaps in the list and clearly missed some big ones!

  8. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    No, pretty sure not accepting being dehumanized and abused is not actually bigotry.

  9. smrnda says

    There’s one thing to adhere to a religion and to believe something is a sin. It’s another to execute people for doing something that breaks a rule in somebody’s holy book. Bigotry isn’t so much the belief that something is a sin, it’s the idea that people who break religious rules should be punished by the law.

    If someone believes homosexuality is sinful, then they should not have gay sex.

  10. smrnda says

    I think in the case of Africa it’s worth pointing out that though this issue is getting framed as one of national autonomy, it isn’t like the export of homophobia hasn’t been accomplished through a great deal of cultural imperialism and American bigots exporting anti-gay conspiracy theories (I believe Scott Lively of ‘the pink swastika’ which blames Nazi Germany on gay people has been to Uganda, for example.)

  11. steve84 says

    What I find so sad is that they insist this is their “own culture” and their “own faith”, when in reality those “values” (and especially the laws) have largely been imposed on them by Colonial powers. Islam too is an import. Now they are claiming this as their own and cry about foreign interference. Just the usual bunch of hypocrites.

  12. steve84 says

    Oops. That reply was supposed to go the entire thread.

    Here I wanted to write this:
    The very strong familial obligation and obedience in many Asian cultures is really the biggest obstacle there. And the fact that what the kids to reflects back on the family. So even if a family may accept someone being gay quietly, they may still be required to be in the closet for public appearance.

  13. dano says

    I firmly agree. At no time have I ever stated to punish them. The guidance of GOD is what is needed to prevent them from acting on these sins. A sexual addiction whether straight, bi or homo leads to an unsatisfied life.

  14. Frank says


    You seem to show up here just about every time homosexuality is mentioned with the same rhetoric about sinfulness. You are missing a very basic point. Let me try to illustrate:

    You say homosexuality is a sin. I agree. It would be a sin for you to commit a homosexual act, as your religion declares it such. In the same way, it would be a sin for a Jew or Muslim to eat pork, or for a Sikh to cut his hair, as their respective religions proscribe these activities. However, none of these “sinful” activities are necessarily wrong.

    You want the state to deny recognition to homosexual relationships not because they are wrong, but because your religion says they are sinful. But not everyone belongs to your religion, and the state is constitutionally disallowed from favoring your religion over any other, or over non-religion. That’s also why the state cannot ban pork consumption or hair cutting, however sinful they might appear to some citizens.

  15. smrnda says

    I’m in a relationship with another woman and so far gods of any sort are conspicuously absent from my life, and I’m pretty happy and content and things are going pretty well for myself and my SO at present.

    Also, what qualifies as ‘sexual addiction?’ Does a married or otherwise long-term couple having sex often make them both sexually addicted, or is it only ‘sexual addiction’ if you exceed some partner count?

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