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Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Homosexuality and Africa: a philosopher’s perspective

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Most African international locations are constitutional democracies that afford intensive rights and freedoms to their residents, and safeguard their dignity.

It’s arbitrary, to say the least, to exclude from these the proper to specific sexuality or gender id. However opponents of homosexuality want to just do that. They typically invoke “public curiosity”, “safety of neighborhood” and “morals” to violate the dignity of homosexuals.

Ghana’s present structure, for instance, is broadly hailed as an inspiring mannequin of a state’s observance of those freedoms. But, on 29 June 2021, The Promotion of Correct Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Household Values Invoice 2021 was launched in parliament. It goals to advertise “correct human sexual rights and Ghanaian household values, and proscribe the promotion of and advocacy for LGBTQ+ observe”.

The invoice’s supporters declare to be motivated by spiritual and cultural values and beliefs. The pattern of the dialogue of homosexuality in Africa for the reason that Eighties means that this view shouldn’t be uniquely Ghanaian, and that homosexuality nags on the conscience of Africans.

From spiritual views, homosexuality is problematic as a result of it’s sinful, and sinful as a result of it offends in opposition to God’s will. A number of theologians deny this.

However whether or not or not religions condemn same-sex relationships, my place is that in lots of African societies the issue has to do much less with sinfulness than with an existential and ethical dedication.

To place it extra plainly, I imagine that many individuals oppose homosexuality as a result of they really feel they’ve a culturally sanctioned ethical dedication to have youngsters. And that dedication stems from the last word objective of selling neighborhood welfare. For my part, it is a worth which might accommodate same-sex relationships and shield gay folks.

Tradition and nature

I begin by accepting that being African is a culturally distinct mode of being. I imply merely that sure values are extra prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa than in different geographical places. I don’t imply that each one Africans share one tradition. And African cultures evolve on a regular basis. I additionally begin from the place that an individual doesn’t select to be homosexual.

Being homosexual in Africa can pose culturally particular issues which the dominant, heterosexual tradition could discover laborious to simply accept. However I feel African tradition may supply an answer to this nonacceptance – an ethical principle that enables folks to embrace each their sexual being and their cultural being. Being homosexual and being African needn’t be seen as a contradiction.

First let’s have a look at the dominant African tradition I’m speaking about.

In African societies, an necessary consider anti-gay agitation is the ethical weight assigned to having youngsters, and emphasis on heterosexual intercourse as a method to attaining this. Procreation ensures continuation of organic heritage, by which the historical past of society unfolds.

Therefore elevating youngsters and contributing to a lineage is upheld as a vitally necessary good for neighborhood. On this method, organic replica by heterosexual intercourse turns into an ethical accountability.

To put in writing off the choice for heterosexuality as pre-modern and as biased in opposition to homosexuals is insulting and unimaginative. Quite than condemning this choice, it’s extra productive to discover a method for tradition to make room for homosexuality.

Some folks describe homosexuality as “unnatural”, “anti-social” or “un-African”. This isn’t true. A number of research, together with one on 50 societies in each area of the continent, decisively help the conclusion that gay relationships represent “a constant and logical characteristic of African societies and perception techniques.”

The argument that same-sex observe is unnatural as a result of it violates human nature additionally overlooks the truth that sexuality is a pure characteristic of human beings. Sexuality is a part of what it’s to be human. To be human is to be a sexually oriented being.

The tendency in Africa to relegate sexuality to a comparatively minor a part of human life – to the drive to procreate – tends to deal with gay expressions as inappropriate. However sexual orientation is central to each individual’s complete sense of self, and never simply to a small a part of it which will be lopped off or placed on maintain at will.

Accepting the centrality of an individual’s sexual orientation to their humanity has vital ethical implications which don’t sq. with the existential and ethical commitments of African societies I’ve described.

Opponents of homosexuality put extra emphasis on the responsibility to have youngsters, and overlook a deeper worth, that of constructing and sustaining neighborhood. They gloss over the function that homosexuals can play in attaining the latter activity.

A average communitarian answer

My view is that the rights of homosexuals will be higher protected by an African ethical principle than by the usual constitutional safeguards.

The African ethical principle that may obtain that is the Ghanaian thinker Kwame Gyekye’s “average communitarianism.” This principle holds that an motion is intrinsically good if it serves the communal good – specifically “the social situations that may allow every particular person to perform satisfactorily in a human society.”

Reasonable communitarianism provides equal worth to what’s good for people and what’s good for neighborhood – so long as people and neighborhood serve and shield one another’s worth and dignity.

From this attitude, gay folks contribute to the communal good. If what you’re shouldn’t be a matter of selection, and sexuality is a part of who you’re, then it’s morally unjustifiable to think about a gay individual as incapable of contributing to the frequent good simply due to their sexuality.

Below average communitarianism, merely having youngsters shouldn’t be sufficient to make you an ethical individual. It will not be ethical to have youngsters and abandon your accountability to information these youngsters to amass virtues that promote communality and human flourishing.

And there are different methods to replenish neighborhood. The average communitarian acknowledges that heterosexual intercourse shouldn’t be the one method to reproduce. For instance, there may be surrogate parenthood and sperm donation for synthetic insemination. Group and human life may flourish by adopting youngsters in want of parenting or supporting these in want.

An ethical individual, underneath this philosophy, is one who cherishes communal relationships and virtues, and whose conduct provides to the communal inventory of excellent. Not bearing youngsters, in itself, can not rely as immoral.

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