Abstract: On the basis of a study of a group of Zambian men identifying both as gay and as Christian, this article explores the negotiation of sexual and religious identity and critically addresses the “surprise” some scholars have expressed about the general religiosity of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) people in Africa. The study demonstrates that participants are not just victims subjected to homophobic religious and political discourses but have agency: resisting discourses of demonization, they humanize themselves by making claims toward the universal category of love—both their own inclination to loving relationships and their share in God’s love. Hence, they claim space for themselves as full citizens of Zambia as a “Christian nation.” This article particularly highlights how some aspects of Pentecostalism appear to contribute to “queer empowerment,” and argues that the religiosity of African LGBTIs critically interrogates Euro-American secular models of LGBTI liberation.
Abstract: Recently, Uganda has made international headlines for the controversial Anti-homosexuality Bill and for a set of tight measures that have limited the freedom of sexual minorities. This article argues that Uganda’s growth of Pentecostal-charismatic churches (PCCs) is playing a major role in influencing and defining the Ugandan public sphere, including (but not limited to) the ways in which sex and sexuality are conceptualized by and within Uganda’s print media. This article suggests that the socially conservative nature of PCCs is highly influential in shaping the way print media write about sex and sexuality. This is because Pentecostal-charismatic (PC) constituencies constitute a considerable numerical market that print media cannot ignore. Second, PCs actively work toward influencing and shaping public policies, politics, and public spaces, like newspapers, that discuss and address public morality and decency in the country. As this article will show, within a highly “Pentecostalized” public sphere, alternative public discourses on sexuality are not allowed.
Abstract: Building upon debates about the politics of nationalism and sexuality in post-colonial Africa, this article highlights the role of religion in shaping nationalist ideologies that seek to regulate homosexuality. It specifically focuses on Pentecostal Christianity in Zambia, where the constitutional declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation has given rise to a form of ‘Pentecostal nationalism’ in which homosexuality is considered to be a threat to the purity of the nation and is associated with the Devil. The article offers an analysis of recent Zambian public debates about homosexuality, focusing on the ways in which the ‘Christian nation’ argument is deployed, primarily in a discourse of anti-homonationalism, but also by a few recent dissident voices. The latter prevent Zambia, and Christianity, from accruing a monolithic depiction as homophobic. Showing that the Zambian case presents a mobilisation against homosexuality that is profoundly shaped by the local configuration in which Christianity defines national identity – and in which Pentecostal-Christian moral concerns and theo-political imaginations shape public debates and politics – the article nuances arguments that explain African controversies regarding homosexuality in terms of exported American culture wars, proposing an alternative reading of these controversies as emerging from conflicting visions of modernity in Africa.
Kaoma, Kapya. 2014. The paradox and tension of moral claims: Evangelical Christianity, the politicization and globalization of sexual politics in sub-Saharan Africa. Critical Research on Religion 2(3): 227-245.
Abstract: This article explores the paradox between local and global moral values in sexual politics in Sub-Saharan Africa. It shares the thesis that various forces of globalization—the web, media, social, economic, political, and religious––influence and to some extent shape sexual politics in Sub-Saharan Africa. Globalization has made it easy for anti-gay and pro-gay rights groups to connect globally, and share ideas and strategies, but it has also complicated the study of sexual politics in Sub-Saharan Africa. While anti-gay and pro-gay groups accuse each other of being “influenced by foreign interests,” both sides have global groups that provide the ideological framework for the struggle. To some extent, the growing opposition to gay rights should be understood from the perspective of conservative global Christianity on one hand and the globalization on the other. The article concludes that global anti-gay activism invites global pro-gay activism, thereby leading to unintended consequences on sexual minorities.