When did Africa become so homophobic?

May 2012
1,090
I was reading a report by the Pew Research Global Attitudes Project describing the results of a survey in which people in various countries (on every continent) were asked whether homosexuality should be accepted or rejected by society. Here it is:

The Global Divide on Homosexuality | Pew Global Attitudes Project

From the findings, it appears that Africa is by far the most homophobic continent. In every African country surveyed, the percentage saying that homosexuality should be accepted was in the single digits (in Nigeria, 98 percent said it should be rejected, while only one percent said accepted!). The only exception was South Africa, where almost a third of respondents (32 percent) said it should be accepted.

Was Africa always so homophobic? If not, when did it become this way?
 

dreamregent

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
4,366
Coastal Florida
Was Africa always so homophobic? If not, when did it become this way?
I'm not sure there is going to be a real answer here that you can take to the bank. There aren't a plethora of written records going back to ancient times over most of Africa. And where we do have records, there has been Christian "contamination" of native African practices and views stemming from the colonial period. However, perhaps someone else has the magic bullet to provide the answer.
 

Louise C

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
7,239
Southeast England
Countries with more traditional and less liberal cultures tend to take a dimmer view of homosexuality.
 

antocya

Ad Honorem
May 2012
5,778
Iraq
Interesting question and I don't really know the answer.

A few months ago I was in Ethiopia chatting with a group of more liberal Ethiopian people there. One of them had attended a meeting with western aid workers about water resources in Ethiopia. Someone started talking about homosexuality and how that was a problem and stopping it, and then in a meeting about water resources. This person I was chatting with was outraged but didn't really respond during the meeting. She blamed western influence for homophobia in Africa.

However, I'm not really convinced. Westerners may have brought homosexuality to people's attention more but I doubt they could create a problem like this out of nothing. Still, there may be something to the idea in a more limited way. I've heard people say the same thing about India being influenced by Victorian morals, although I wouldn't accept that was the sole cause either.
 
Jul 2013
15
Inside my body
Countries with more traditional and less liberal cultures tend to take a dimmer view of homosexuality.
I don't think I agree. I don't like what you say either.
What's traditional? In Ancient Greece and Medieval Japan homosexuality was actually not viewed as something bad from what I understand.

I did a quick Google search and found something about Native Americans. I have actually read an article about this recently and it said one tribe had homosexual chiefs and they were accepted. If I remember correctly this same tribe or Native Americans did accept transsexuals.

When I read about hunter gatherer tribes, one of the positive things I heard is that they are actually pretty liberal (there are always exceptions) in particular with sex.

I think dreamregent is spot on, I have read something that homosexuality was quite normal in Europe until Christianity came along, it might even be on this forum. (I got nothing on Christianity, by the way)
 
Last edited:

dreamregent

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
4,366
Coastal Florida
What's traditional? In Ancient Greece and Medieval Japan homosexuality was actually not viewed as something bad from what I understand.
I think, in general, Louise is correct...primarily because this issue is often connected with the general religious views of the society. But, you can also have other reasons. For example, I believe the prohibition is in the bible's Old Testament because jews faced a social imperative to increase the population in order to survive due to outside threats from other groups. I think the prohibition against a man "spilling his seed on the ground" is in there for the same reason.

I'm not sure on the exact details in every place. However, in ancient times, the man who took the passive role in the sex act was often looked down upon.
 
Jul 2013
15
Inside my body
I'm not sure on the exact details in every place. However, in ancient times, the man who took the passive role in the sex act was often looked down upon.
I actually read that here too, though I thought it only applied to Romans, not Greeks.

But I feel that, while partly right, his comment is a over generalization.
His comment actually made me a bit, well not angry, but I did not like it at all.

I think it has little to do with how traditional or less liberal a culture is. It just so happens to be so, because of dominant cultures.

Take a look at this:

[ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_homosexuality]History of homosexuality - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

In Assyria homosexuality was common.

In Ancient Persia it was tolerated.

Azende warriors practiced homosexuality.
 

Louise C

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
7,239
Southeast England
I don't think I agree. I don't like what you say either.
What's traditional? In Ancient Greece and Medieval Japan homosexuality was actually not viewed as something bad from what I understand.

I did a quick Google search and found something about Native Americans. I have actually read an article about this recently and it said one tribe had homosexual chiefs and they were accepted. If I remember correctly this same tribe or Native Americans did accept transsexuals.

When I read about hunter gatherer tribes, one of the positive things I heard is that they are actually pretty liberal (there are always exceptions) in particular with sex.

I think dreamregent is spot on, I have read something that homosexuality was quite normal in Europe until Christianity came along, it might even be on this forum. (I got nothing on Christianity, by the way)
I don't think homosexuality as a lifestyle really existed in the ancient world. Ancient Greeks tolerated homosexual relations to a point, an adult man could have sexual relations with an adolescent boy (not with another adult man) so long as he took the dominant role. But that wasn't supposed to stop him getting married, having children etc. It was just a diversion, wasn't supposed to interfere with the serious business of life.
 

dreamregent

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
4,366
Coastal Florida
There are varying degrees and it's not always clear exactly what happened. We have to be careful because sometimes it's simply an interpretation of a situation that isn't clear. Even in the case of a text, it's not always clear. For example, the concept of homosexuality is present in The Contendings of Horus & Seth but we can't tell whether it was approved of or disapproved of in Ancient Egyptian society.

Said the Ennead: "Let Horus and Seth be summoned in order that they may be judged."
Then they were brought before the Ennead. Said the Universal Lord before the Great Ennead to Horus and Seth: "Go and obey what I tell you. You should eat and drink so that we may have (some) peace. Stop quarreling so every day on end."
Then Seth told Horus: "Come, let's make holiday in my house."
Horus told him: "I'll do so, surely, I'll do so, I'll do so."
Now afterward, (at) evening time, bed was prepared for them, and they both lay down. But during the night, Seth caused his phallus to become stiff and inserted it between Horus's thighs. Then Horus placed his hands between his thighs and received Seth's semen. Horus went to tell his mother Isis: "Help me, Isis, my mother, come and see what Seth has done to me."
And he opened his hand(s) and let her see Seth's semen. She let out a loud shriek, seized the copper (knife), cut off his hand(s) that were equivalent. Then she fetched some fragrant ointment and applied it to Horus's phallus. She caused it to become stiff and inserted it into a pot, and he caused his semen to flow down into it.

Isis at morning time went carrying the semen of Horus to the garden of Seth and said to Seth's gardener: "What sort of vegetable is it that Seth eats here in your company?"


So the gardener told her: "He doesn't eat any vegetable here in my company except lettuce."
And Isis added the semen of Horus onto it. Seth returned according to his daily habit and ate the lettuce, which he regularly ate. Thereupon he became pregnant with the semen of Horus. So Seth went to tell Horus: "Come, let's go and I may contend with you in the tribunal."
Horus told him: "I'll do so, surely, I'll do so, I'll do so."
 

antocya

Ad Honorem
May 2012
5,778
Iraq
I think they also had the idea that a man's wife wasn't expected to be his sole sexual partner or even his chief romantic interest. I read a book that had a lot to do with this subject and it mentioned adult men being romantically involved with one another but I don't remember the details, I would think it wasn't without some controversy but wasn't an all out prohibition, of course when talking about Ancient Greece it wasn't uniform everywhere and in every time, and it can be difficult to measure people's attitudes to sexual matters sometimes.