New study finds that homosexuality not ‘un-African’

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A new study may signal a step forward for LGBT equality in Africa.

The results were published last week – by the influential Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) – on the science of human sexual diversity, reports New Scientist.

The study concluded that sexual behaviour is “naturally varied”, and discrimination “unjustified”.

It also stated that there is “no evidence that orientation can be altered by therapy or that being gay is contagious.”

Although this may seem obvious to some, the results could prove integral to strengthening LGBT rights in some African countries – where anti-gay ideology and blatant homophobia are rife.

In addition, the report also rubbishes the idea that individuals have adopted homosexuality because of Western influences.

It states: “There is no basis for the view that homosexuality is ‘un-African’ either in the sense of it being a ‘colonial import’, or on the basis that prevalence of people with same-sex or bisexual orientations is any different in African countries compared to countries on any other continent.”

The report also encouraged the acceptance of LGBT people, by pointing out that tolerance of sexual diversity benefits not only local communities, but also affects “public health, civil society and long-term economic growth”.

The results come just over a year after Uganda’s controversial anti-gay law was scrapped – although anti-LGBT legislation remains prevalent across some African nations.

Yesterday, it was revealed the seven men have been imprisoned in Senegal after engaging in “acts against nature.”

Countries such as Malawi, Nigeria and Kenya also operate laws banning homosexuality – which is often punishable by serving a lengthy prison sentence or being force to pay a hefty fine.

However, ASSAf president Daya Reddy is hopeful that the report may be a step towards change on the continent.

“I expect there to be interest not only among policy-makers but also from across civil society,” he said.

Co-author Glenda Gray – of the South African Medical Research Council – said: “By doing science in Africa on sexual diversity, we will get an authentic African voice.”

On his recent trip to Africa, President Barack Obama promised to tackle the approach taken to LGBT rights across the continent.

During an interview with the BBC’s John Sopel prior to his visit Africa, President Obama said he would be “very blunt” about the need for equality in the country.

He did not disappoint during his visit to Kenya – publicly challenging Kenyan President  Uhuru Kenyatta over state discrimination against gay people.