The ‘homosexuality is un-African argument’, whichever way its proponents wish to phrase it, is just wrong. There is an enormous body of historical and scientific evidence for the existence of homosexuality in every culture on every corner of the world and stretching back in time as far as the human record can take us. Homosexuality may not be normal, but it is natural.
The South African government should be lauded for standing up for human rights of African homosexuals at the United Nations against vociferous opposition from across the continent.
But let us examine the arguments:
First, in its rudest form, this argument implies that Africans must be genetically different from all other human beings.
If, however, we choose to believe Africans are part of the human race then homophobes must accept that homosexual Africans are “born that way”. If this is true, then African homosexuals are being persecuted for their inherent nature.
And by the way, why is this any more acceptable than racially oppressing someone?
Some may reply that if you are born homosexual, you can control your behavior, whereas you cannot really control your skin color. This is also the orthodox position amongst most religions in Africa. They accept that people are born homosexual, but must control it.
An African man who is born homosexual is told he may not be homosexual, because he is a black African. Those who support this argument want to put a “whites only” sign on homosexuality.
Only slightly subtler is an argument that seems to revolve around contamination. This argument goes that homosexuality was introduced by the white man and is destroying African tradition and culture. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a bit like the British claiming that homosexuality was invented by the Greeks.
In many places missionaries and colonial governments destroyed the way indigenous African culture dealt with homosexuality, along with African beliefs, cultural and social practices, including other sexual customs.
To oppose homosexuality in Africa is to deny the rich cultural history of Africa; indeed, it is to say Europeans may be free to realize themselves, but Africans may not.
And why is it that “African” taboo on homosexuality is suddenly being reclaimed as a keystone of African culture, when so many other customs are not?
It is also paternalistic, for it asserts that the most intimate relations of black people must be regulated, their self-actualization must be controlled by laws because obviously two consenting black adults do not know what is good for them even in the privacy of their home.
On the other hand, if they are white, no problem, that’s their culture; they can enjoy their freedom.
We can be quite certain that there were African cultures, perhaps even the majority, but certainly not all, where homosexual behavior was frowned upon or even taboo. But that is very far from criminalizing and passing legislation to unleash the police and all the coercive forces of the modern nation state against innocent people, pronounced guilty of nothing but a victimless ‘crime’. Legislation of culture is colonial and maybe un-African.
Arguments that homosexuality is destroying the moral fabric of society are as ridiculous as they are risible.
Hate is un-African, not love.
The picture is from a blog called Stew.