Being Gay and African: A View from an African Philosopher

Bernard Matolino


In recent times there has been an upsurge in the rejection of gay orientation. A number of African countries have openly legislated against homosexual acts to undergird the belief that such orientation is alien to being African. The vitriol directed at gay people does not make much sense apart from displaying either a deep-seated resentment for the persons or their orientation. What seems valuable and worth of engagement is the claim that being gay or upholding same-sex orientation, is essentially un-African. By setting up a charitable interpretation of what opponents of same-sex relations could possibly take African reality to be, I chart a way that seeks to establish whether their interpretation of that reality is philosophically sound. What could be the basis of objections to homosexuality? What values do they articulate? Crucial to this consideration is the idea of harm. While societies are entitled to protecting themselves (through legislation and other actions if need be) from threats both from within and without, are there good grounds to think that same-sex practices pose an authentic form of harm to warrant taking the steps that some African nations have taken against their gay citizens?


Same-sex orientation; gay; homosexual; Africa; discrimination; communitarianism

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