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Sexual Orientation and Human Rights: Putting Homophobia on Trial

AFRICAN SEXUALITIES: A READER, Sylvia Tamale, ed., Pambazuka Press, 2011

Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-006

14 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2011  

Makau W. Mutua

SUNY Buffalo Law School

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

This chapter analyzes and critiques homophobia in Africa and argues that as a matter of general historical practice, Africans did not discriminate against, or socially stigmatize, gays and lesbians. The author contends that modern homophobia in Africa can be traced directly to mission Christianity and Islam whose doctrinal teachings have been used to promote homophobia. The writer takes the view that it is the normative obligation of human rights thinkers and advocates to deconstruct the intellectual bankruptcy of African homophobes and reconstruct a rights discourse that affirms the dignity of homosexuals. It is not un-African to be gay, as some have argued. Nor is there anything racial – or ethnic – about any form of sexual orientation. The author concludes by calling for a struggle based on anti-subordination to combat all forms of human powerlessness, including sexual orientation.

Keywords: gays, lesbians, homophobia, Africa, sexual orientation, anti-subordination, sexuality, human rights, liberalism, Christianity, Islam.

Suggested Citation

Mutua, Makau W., Sexual Orientation and Human Rights: Putting Homophobia on Trial (2011). AFRICAN SEXUALITIES: A READER, Sylvia Tamale, ed., Pambazuka Press, 2011; Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1893040

Makau Mutua (Contact Author)

SUNY Buffalo Law School ( email )

626 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States
716 645-2311 (Phone)

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