The West exported homophobia, not homosexuality

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12/02/2018

Tanzania’s recent intensified efforts to clamp down on the country’s queer community highlights the risk of statements by Africa’s political, business and social elites normalizing hate and discriminatory actions against sexual minorities. In the latest development, regional commissioner of Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda, announced that he had set up a 17-member task team to target and arrest LGBTQ people in the region. Many factors contribute to the marginalization of the LGBTQ community, but categorizing same-sex attraction as a foreign concept and a form of neo-colonialism has proven to be a powerful tool in oppressing this vulnerable group. Historical evidence, however, dispels the notion that LGBT people, as well as alternative gender expressions and identities, are alien to African culture. An early researcher in Africa, John Weeks, reported in 1909 that sodomy between men was quite common among the Bangala of the Congo and was “regarded without shame”.

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