At least 38 African countries already proscribe consensual same-sex behavior.
The sad, tired but widely accepted myth that homosexuality is un-African has been valorized and erected on the altar of falsehood time after time.
In Buganda, one of the largest traditional kingdoms in Uganda, it was an open secret that Kabaka (king) Mwanga II, who ruled in the latter half of the 19th century, was gay.
The vocabulary used to describe same-sex relations in traditional languages, predating colonialism, is further proof of the existence of such relations in precolonial Africa.
Moreover, even if we wanted to imagine an authentic African culture, like all others, it would not be static.
African history is replete with examples of both erotic and nonerotic same-sex relationships.
For example, the Ndebele and Shona in Zimbabwe, the Azande in Sudan and Congo, the Nupe in Nigeria and the Tutsi in Rwanda and Burundi all engaged in same-sex acts for spiritual rearmament — i.e., as a source of fresh power for their territories. Among various communities in South Africa, sex education among adolescent peers allowed them to experiment through acts such as “thigh sex” (“hlobonga” among the Zulu, “ukumetsha” among the Xhosa and “gangisa” among the Shangaan).
In many African societies, same-sex sexuality was also believed to be a source of magical powers to guarantee bountiful crop yields and abundant hunting, good health and to ward off evil spirits.
To name but a few, the Shangaan of southern Africa referred to same-sex relations as “inkotshane” (male-wife); Basotho women in present-day Lesotho engage in socially sanctioned erotic relationships called “motsoalle” (special friend) and in the Wolof language, spoken in Senegal, homosexual men are known as “gor-digen” (men-women).
But to be sure, the context and experiences of such relationships did not necessarily mirror homosexual relations as understood in the West, nor were they necessarily consistent with what we now describe as a gay or queer identity.
“It’s rare for a country to have such high-level leadership dealing with HIV among sex workers,” Abdullah said.
“It’s a sign that government is taking this very seriously and working with non-governmental organisations and the community to make sure that the right thing is done and done properly.
The 'homosexuality is un-African' myth is anchored on an old practice of selectively invoking African culture by those in power. “It is un-African” whenever they assert their rights, particularly those rights that involve reproductive autonomy and sexual sovereignty.