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Accepted Paper:

State-sponsored homo-leniency and Portuguese colonial legacies  

Author:

Axel Fleisch (Goethe-University Frankfurt)

Paper short abstract:

Portuguese colonial legacies seem to have impacted on popular opinion and state attitudes towards homosexuality in e.g. Angola and Mozambique. Discursive dynamics are rather more complex in these settings compared to the notion of a homophobic backlash against an alleged western-imposed LGBT agenda.

Paper long abstract:

Three discernible conceptual strands appear in African homophobia discourses as well as elsewhere: traditionalist, biologistic, and religious. In African contexts, they clearly relate to the colonial experience. In much of the writing on homophobia, it has become almost a trope to claim that homophobia, not homosexual desire, is the colonial import. Much of the debate centers on British ex-colonial contexts. This may be significant, because at this point, we observe that popular views on the issue of homosexuality differ along various lines. In this contribution, I claim that one of these lines relates to the longue durée history of conceptual entanglements that derive from the various colonial settings, e.g. British versus Portuguese. Sources are necessarily scant, but an historical approach still holds interesting insight for currently different experiences in former Portuguese colonies compared to rather many other African countries. These ideas are mirrored in popular discourses e.g. in East Africa, relating to the different colonial experience in Mozambique and the current intra-African migration. The binary distinction between Western homonationalism as opposed to an alleged state-sponsored homophobia in African contexts is thereby rendered rather more complex in certain places with Portuguese colonial legacies. To outline some of these, and provide a tentative of current dynamics is the main goal of this contribution.

Panel P126
Interrogating the global geopolitics of homosexuality: state-sponsored homophobia as reaction to Western cultural imperialism? [European Network for Queer Anthropology]