Vol.21 No.200

Thursday 30 December 2004    





Cartoon Strip

Business Week



Arts/Culture Review




Views on homosexuality ridiculous


12/29/2004 9:33:10 PM (GMT +2)

Mesh Moeti's interview (Mmegi, 23 December 2004) with Archbishop Bernard Malango, the head of the Anglican Church in Central Africa, brought up a number of familiar points regarding the attitude of many African bishops of the Anglican Church towards homosexuality and same-sex marriages.

This attitude on the part of the African bishops became quite clear following the consecration of a gay bishop in the United States earlier this year.

Malango was quoted in the interview as having said: " Homosexuality is un-African, and foreign. Some people have been angry with me for saying homosexuality is not African because they think it has been practised in Africa for a long time. If it has been around for a long time, maybe it was hidden. Let those who are doing it in the West keep it to themselves". Another reason for Malango's strong views is that " ... God's approach is that he created a man and a woman for the sake of procreation". In other words, homosexuality is simply unnatural.

These are popular views among many people in Africa, including many political leaders. Leaders such as former President Sam Nujoma of Namibia and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, for instance, are well known for their hard line on such issues. And I've no reason to doubt that Botswana's leaders probably share such views, for otherwise the law in this country wouldn't prohibit homosexuality. In contrast, homosexuality is recognised in South Africa; and in this regard, as in many, many others, South Africa is way ahead of its African counterparts.

As I've argued before in this column, it's ridiculous of African leaders to pretend that homosexuality is foreign to Africa, and that it was somehow introduced into their countries by depraved citizens of Western countries. It is equally ridiculous to regard homosexuality as unnatural. It may be true that the majority, or even the vast majority, of people are heterosexual; but this doesn't make homosexuality unnatural.

Similarly, the fact that the majority of people are right-handed doesn't make those who are left-handed unnatural. Admittedly, the analogy isn't entirely appropriate. But although I couldn't think of a better one, I hope it clarifies my point sufficiently. Whether one finds homosexuality odd (as I certainly do) or not, I think it's important to recognise this reality.

But my major concern about the attitude of many African governments and churches towards homosexuality is the negative impact that it's bound to have on the fight against the HIV pandemic, which is a major problem throughout the continent. For instance, it's all very well to have the wonderful strategies that we have in this country to fight the pandemic; but we can't totally win this war so long as homosexuals and those who practise sodomy in our prisons are excluded from our battle plans.


The relevant authorities deserve to be commended for the security patrols that were mounted throughout the country to coincide with the current holiday season. It's particularly pleasing that members of the Botswana Police Service and the Botswana Defence Force jointly man the patrols. Although the true impact of the patrols can only be accurately assessed at the end of the festive season, I'm sure it will be found to have been positive. At this stage, though, there can be no doubt that the general public has hugely appreciated the patrols and would like to see them mounted again on similar occasions in the future.

One might even go further and wonder why the patrols can't be mounted on a permanent basis. Let's admit it, security problems in this country have escalated dramatically in the last few years, and this is true of virtually every category of crime. I'm sure the nation knows and appreciates that the police are doing their best to reduce the rapid escalation of the crime rate. But the nation is also aware of the extremely limited resources that the police have at their disposal, which limits the impact of their efforts to reduce the crime rate.

It's in the light of this problem, which obviously can't be overcome overnight, that one sees value in getting the police and the army to combine their resources on a long-term basis in the fight against crime. I'm sure this can be done effectively without limiting the capacity of the army in any way. As I pointed out recently, Botswana is at peace with all its neighbours and can surely afford to deploy some defence force personnel to security duties outside the army.

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