Homophobia is a problem in much of Africa, but one country is showing signs of progress.
Gay rights activists march in Soweto, South Africa / Reuters
- Africa as Frontier Market
- U.S. Trade Policy
- What's Next For Egypt's Secularists?
- Taliban Talks, a Balancing Act
Unfortunately, much of sub-Saharan Africa is homophobic. Recent legislation, some proposed, some passed, condemns gay marriage and sometimes outlaws gay sexual activity. Nigeria, Uganda, and Liberia all have such legislation pending or passed, often with the provision of draconian penalties. Such legislation appears to be very popular.
The exception is South Africa, with a constitution that provides among the most comprehensive protection of individual rights in the world. Last week, a regional court magistrate sentenced four men convicted of murdering a 19-year old lesbian in 2006 to eighteen years in prison, with four years suspended. The sentencing was widely hailed by the human rights community.
The trial and sentencing took place in Khayelitsha, a grim township outside of Cape Town and an area of severe social deprivation.
Certainly there is homophobia in South Africa. The Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini, was quoted in the South African press as saying, "Traditionally, there were no people who engaged in same-sex relationships. There was nothing like that and, if you do it, you must know that you are rotten."