Love Crimes: Criminalization of Same-Sex Sexualities in Three African Countries

Tara McKay, University of California, Berkeley
Nicole Angotti, American University

Political leaders in several African countries have recently spoken out against homosexuality and considered legislation to expand the criminalization of same-sex sex. Much of the research on efforts to expand criminalization of same-sex sexualities in Africa has focused on individual country cases, neglecting the role of national and transnational sociopolitical contexts and economic flows. Drawing on an original news media dataset from Uganda, Nigeria and Malawi, three countries that have recently increased penalties for same-sex sex and that have substantial linkages to state and nonstate actors in the West, we examine 1) how transnationally-circulating discourses on same-sex sexualities inform the development of local discourses around criminalization and 2) how LGBT issues, including sexual health, intersect with other sociopolitical and economic issues in countries pursuing regressive policies. Preliminary data suggest that struggles around homosexuality are enmeshed in larger conflicts over social change, political instability and resource distribution, and global status hierarchies.

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Presented in Session 89: Fertility, Family Planning, and Sexual Health: Policies and Politics