On the (African) National Question: Sexuality and Tradition

Mark Mathuray

Research output: Other contribution

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In Southern Africa, sexuality has become a highly contested site for the negotiation of
authenticity, both in terms of the nation and identity. It has become a variable in
Africa’s ideological and material battle with the West. Most importantly, it has come
to signify the limits of citizenship, testing African leaders commitment to
international human rights agreements. Post-apartheid South Africa has granted
constitutional equality to gays and lesbians – the first country in the world to do so.
Since the adoption of the ‘equality clause’, courts have recognised the rights of gay
and lesbians to serve in the army; with regards to adoption, gender references have
been dropped from the legislation; and the recognition of same-sex unions is in the
process of being addressed. This has provided the impetus for the appearance of a
more insistently vocal and visible gay and lesbian presence in the neighbouring
countries. Rather than follow South Africa’s lead, other Southern African countries
have united in their denunciation of homosexuality and homosexual practices. In
Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the ruling elites have
publicly decried homosexuality, and maintain their intransigence in addressing the
demands of gays and lesbians within their countries. In the light of a growing demand
and need for regional integration, the demands of gays and lesbians remains a thorn in
the side of any such attempt.
Original languageEnglish
TypeHomosexuality in Southern Africa
Media of outputOnline
PublisherInstitute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2000


  • Africa, homosexuality, development

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