Updated: Saturday, 22nd February 2020 @ 5:50am

Village Views: The LGBT Column: Will Africa ever be gay-friendly?

Village Views: The LGBT Column: Will Africa ever be gay-friendly?

By Owen Williams

"Human Rights Watch revealed that Cameroonian authorities forcibly shut down a human rights discussion after they discovered it would talk about gay rights." As reported by MM yesterday.

This is just the latest in a long and increasingly explicit line of attacks on gay rights by African governments and authorities.

From Uganda’s now infamous gay death penalty bill to Gambia’s President claiming that gay rights ‘destroy culture’, across the continent gay rights violations are becoming human rights violations and if anything it is getting worse.

Africa is arguably the most homophobic continent on the planet and the life of its LGBT people is in an entirely different universe from that of their counterparts across the Mediterranean.

In my view, every homophobic attack is a direct violation of the victim’s rights as a human and their humanity, be it in Mogadishu or Manchester, however, we should not forget that the situation in Africa is very different to that in Europe.

It is entwined tightly and almost irreconcilably with the colonial past, and until that history and the problems it has created are recognised and dealt with, at least in some way, the gay rights movement in Africa is doomed to failure.

Many African leaders and homophobic leaders from post-colonial nations frequently say that homosexuality is a western disease, only ever imported into their country and their society by European and American oppressors.

Needless to say they are wrong, but we did import something else, something much more destructive, homophobia.

The vast majority of anti-gay laws in African nations were written and imposed by us, the supposedly great Imperial Powers, Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands.

What is ironic is those six nations would no longer look out of place in a list of some of the most gay-friendly places to live in the world, four of them have legalised gay marriage.

Before the west invaded, annexed, colonised and ultimately Christianised these nations, people who we would today class as LGBT were accepted throughout many different parts of the world, including Africa, and in some places they even revered gay people as spiritually superior.

African nations are still living with the negative effects of being colonised; the high level of homophobia in these nations is just one aspect of a greater injustice that is still on-going today.

We can condemn, rant, rave and even withdraw aid from nations which we deem as homophobic but until that past is dealt with, by us as well as them, we can’t truly expect incidents like this not to happen.

Human Rights Watch revealed today that Cameroonian authorities forcibly shut down a discussion about human rights after they discovered it would talk about gay rights.

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.