Date Published: 3 March 2011

Homophobia concerns re. some African communities in the UK

Hostility towards gay men and women within African communities in the UK is increasing, according to Mambo - a healthy lifestyle magazine for Africans. Mambo is published by HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and the new edition reveals what it is like to be gay in UK African communities, where people can experience a life of victimisation, abuse and discrimination based on misplaced beliefs about homosexuality.

Discriminating against gay, lesbian or transgender people is a crime in the UK, yet Africans who are not heterosexual often suffer serious abuse, verbal and physical assault from their own community. Some are even disowned by their family. As a result of this hostility, only very few gay Africans have the courage to openly declare their sexuality.

Joseph Ochieng, Editor of Mambo, said:

" Being forced to hide your sexuality can have serious health and social consequences, not just for the individual, but also for the wider African community. People who are subjected to abuse and ridicule can feel isolated and find it hard to cope emotionally, losing self-confidence or the ability to forge meaningful relationships. These people are vulnerable to sexual exploitation as well as sexually transmitted infections, including HIV."

In an opinion article written for the latest Mambo, award-winning journalist Sorious Samora describes his shock at the levels of hostility that he found towards gay people during his visit to east and central Africa to film his documentary, 'Africa's Last Taboo', for Channel 4's 'Dispatches' programme. He says that homophobia is actually being encouraged by religious leaders, the very people who should be promoting tolerance and understanding.

Joseph Ochieng said:

" Terrence Higgins Trust offers support for gay, lesbian and bisexual people in London as well as throughout the UK. Services include safer sex skills and emotional support around 'coming out' issues, including how to deal with homophobic attacks.
_ Thankfully in the UK we don't have the same draconian legislation against homosexuality that some countries on the African continent do, but with homophobia on the rise here, UK Africans need to realise that being gay is not immoral and that homosexuality is not something you either learn or acquire.Tackling homophobia is everybody's responsibility. It's crucial that no one is made to suffer discrimination and abuse on the grounds of sexuality.

About Mambo
Mambo magazine is funded by the Pan-London HIV Prevention Programme, and is distributed through a range of participating African organisations.The latest edition also includes an exclusive interview with Pastor Gideon Byamugisha, the award-winning AIDS campaigner who was the first African religious leader to openly declare his HIV status; a myth-busting guide to sexual health clinics, and an article on the increase of TB in the UK and how to protect against the infection. There are also all the usual competitions, recipes, and the latest news from the African continent.

Source: Terrence Higgins Trust (THT)

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