Saturday 21 November 2009

Lessons to be learnt from the report on Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia

The report Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia by Political Research Associates (PRA) Project Director Reverend Kapya Kaoma presents evidence of the relationship between the domestic conflicts and culture wars being waged by US conservative evangelicals and the growing criminalisation of homosexuality and the infringement of the human rights of LGBT people in Africa.

The findings of the report have serious implications for the campaigns being fought across the Anglican Communion, including those groups and individuals campaigning against the blessing of Civil Partnerships and equality in ministry for LGBT Anglicans.

Key findings of the report include the following:

Conservatives have successfully recruited a significant number of prominent African religious leaders to a campaign seeking to restrict the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

The campaign has had the effect of slowing, if not stopping altogether, the recognition by the Anglican Communion of the full equality of LGBT people.

As a direct result of the campaign, homophobia is on the rise in Africa— from increased incidents of violence to antigay legislation that carries the death penalty.

Conservatives are in the minority within Anglican Provinces in the west and are depending on African religious leaders to legitimize their positions.

It is the intensity of the conflicts created by the conservatives which promotes the very real threat of schism in the Anglican Communion.

A radical reversal of positions has taken place. The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), a neoconservative think tank that opposed the African liberation struggles is now one of the main organizations promoting homophobia in both Africa and the United States.

Conservatives present mainline denominations' commitments to human rights as imperialistic attempts to manipulate Africans into accepting homosexuality—which they characterize as a purely western phenomenon.

The report finds that conservative evangelicals have built relationships with African bishops and Provinces to oppose progress on LGBT issues —sometimes through deception but always through substantial financial incentives.

Traditionally, evangelical African churches have been biblically and doctrinally orthodox but progressive on such social issues as national liberation and poverty, making them natural partners of the politically liberal western churches. However, their religious orthodoxy means that Africans resonate with the denunciation of homosexuality as a postcolonial plot. Their homophobia is as much an expression of resistance to the West as a statement about human sexuality.

Right-wing groups have enticed African religious leaders to reject funding from mainline denominations—which require documentation of how the money is spent—and instead to accept funds from conservatives. This money usually goes to individual bishops without accountability or oversight for how it is used.

Christian Right activists use rhetoric about "family values" to foment homophobia in Africa with disastrous consequences, such as the proposed antigay legislation in Uganda.

Conservatives have engendered an insidious, inverse relationship between LGBT rights in the West and in Africa. Evangelicals portray victories for equality for LGBT people as evidence of the encroaching gay conspiracy, exciting bigotry and violence among their African audiences.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including:

Progressives should confront major figures in the conservative campaigns and call upon them to stop their promotion of homophobia.

African activists and scholars should be given support to lead the struggle for LGBT rights and the study of sexuality in Africa.

Work on LGBT issues in Africa should be led by Africans themselves.

Western scholars and journalists should promote research by Africans into sexuality.

Progressives should build relationships with the next generation of Anglican African leaders. We should seek out, support, educate, and network with young church leaders committed to human rights, rather than focusing on dialogue with the entrenched reactionary leadership.

Disseminate reliable information and continue the research. The destructive campaigns of conservatives against LGBT people are not widely known. A robust and sustained research and communications effort is needed.

Changing Attitude England will continue to work with out partners in Australia, Canada, Kenya, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, UK and the USA, in building church in which equality of place in church and society is granted to LGBT people. We will follow the commitments made by Lambeth 1.10 and the Windsor Report to oppose all legislation which criminalizes and dehumanises LGBT people.


  1. Thank you so much for this post. It is eye-opening! I have always suspected the presence of a money link between Africa and the West...

  2. Interesting… I might try some of this on my blog, too. It’s quite interesting how you sometimes stop being innovative and just go for an accepted solution without actually trying to improve it… you make a couple of good points.

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