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Saturday, 10 December 2011

Paper: Homosexuality in “traditional” Sub-Saharan Africa and contemporary South Africa

An overview by Stephen O. Murray

Western influences (notably Christian and Marxist) have been pervasive, there is now a belief that homosexuality is a decadent, bourgeois Western innovation forced upon colonial Africa by white men, or, alternately by Islamic slave-traders.

Around the world, people view homosexuality as a vice of some other people.

Thus, the recurrent British claim Norman conquerors introduced homosexuality to the British Isles. Various French accounts view homosexuality as Italian, Bulgarian, or North African. Italians accept only the latter two homelands. Bulgarians attribute greater popularity and/or the origins of homosexuality to Albanians, and Albanians in turn to Turks. Similarly eastern Bantu claimed that pederasty was imported by the Nubians (Schneider 1885:295-6), Sudanese blame Turkish marauders (Weine 1848:120), etc.

Such views tell us something about perceived ethnic boundaries, but nothing about the origins or the historical transmission of cultural traits. The belief by many Africans that homosexuality is exogenous to the history of their people is a belief with genuine social consequences -- in particular stigmatization for those of their people engaged in homosexual behavior or grappling with gay identities. These beliefs are not, however, based on serious inquiry, historical or otherwise. Homosexuality in “Traditional” Sub-Saharan Africa and Contemporary South
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