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Is Africa homophobic?

(Blogmensgo, gay blog of March 17, 2016) The surveys conducted in 33 African countries by the independent network Afrobarometer show some interesting facts. For example, people with HIV are somewhat tolerated (68%) but on the other hand, 78% of the respondents prefer not to have homosexual neighbors.

Homophobia in Africa

Homosexual neighbors? Only 21% of the respondents have little or no problems with that. However, this means that 78% are very strongly, strongly or somewhat opposed to gays and lesbians as neighbors.

Infographic by Afrobarometer

21%: Only 1 out of 5 Africans tolerates homosexuals. :( ©Afrobarometer.org.

The tolerance levels towards immigrants, other religions or other ethnic groups are significantly higher.

In its report (in FR, EN and PT), Afrobarometer points out that “the questions on tolerance were not asked in Algeria, Egypt, and Sudan because research partners deemed the question about tolerance for homosexuals too sensitive.” Consequently, the average values would be even lower if those questions had been asked in these three North African countries.

Infographic by Afrobarometer

Africa: Hardly a tolerant country. ©Afrobarometer.org.

Only four African countries show a higher tolerance level towards homosexuals: South Africa (67% – the only African country where same-sex marriage is legal), then Cape Verde (74% – the highest percentage), Mozambique (56%) and Namibia (55%).

The tolerance level is still somewhat acceptable in Botswana (43%), Mauritius (49%) and São Tomé e Príncipe (46%). After that, the percentages drop to 26% in Swaziland and even lover.

HIV/AIDS still stigmatized

Tolerance levels towards people living with HIV or AIDS reach an average of 68% although with large variations. On the one hand, about one third (31%) of the people are quite opposed to the subject, on the other hand, a majority of the respondents (37%) do not see a problem with having a neighbor living with HIV/AIDS.

Infographic by Afrobarometer.org

Principle of proximity: The more people with HIV/AIDS live in a country, the better these are tolerated. ©Afrobarometer.org.

As we can see, the countries struck most by the pandemic are part of the most tolerant ones – such as Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, South Africa and Malawi.

The tolerance levels towards people living with HIV/AIDS in Niger, Sierra Leone and Madagascar are below 30%. We may safely assume that this is linked to the very low average educational level and living standard.
(A similar statement can be made concerning the low tolerance levels towards gays and lesbians in the same three countries.)

Other reasons for the wide variations in tolerance levels may well be age, educational level and geographic situation (rural vs. urban areas).

Some comments on this study

Data objectivity

The data published on March 1st, 2016 by Afrobarometer was collected in surveys conducted in 2014 and 2015 in 33 African countries. Sample sizes: 1200 people (error margin ±3%) or 2400 people (error margin ±2%).

The survey forms were filled in during face-to-face interviews and in the preferred language.

Possible shortcomings

Supposedly, the survey forms were administered in the most prominent Western and Eastern languages as well as, in official and typical languages of each country.

It is unlikely that the forms were also offered in some rarer languages spoken by few ethnic groups – for example in Wolof, Pulaar or Serer, three languages spoken in Senegal.

This raises some question marks as to how homogeneous and comparable the collected data are in the end.

We may also doubt whether the choice of responses (“strongly like,” “somewhat like” or “not care”) can easily and in a meaningful way be translated into various languages.

In any case and despite its possible shortcoming, this research study may be considered as a valuable contribution, which maps the situation in Africa more or less precisely. As there are no other studies of this amplitude, this is certainly a good thing overall.

Frank-S / MensGo
(Via Jeune Afrique of March 2, 2016)

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