Peter Tatchell: Evils of colonialism still wrecking lives

Share
Related Topics

The conviction by a Malawian court of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga on charges of homosexuality is the latest example of how, more than four decades after most African nations won their independence, the evils of colonialism continue to wreck lives.

The two men face up to 14 years in jail under laws that were imposed on the people of Malawi by the British colonisers in the 19th century.

Before the British came and conquered Malawi, there were no laws against homosexuality. These laws are a foreign imposition, they are not African at all. Despite independence, these alien criminalisations were never repealed.

Today, the minds of many Malawians – and other Africans – remain colonised by the homophobic beliefs that were drummed into their forebears by the western missionaries who invaded their lands alongside the conquering imperial armies.

The missionaries preached a harsh, intolerant Christianity, which has been so successfully internalised by many Africans that they now claim homophobia as their own culture and tradition.

While many African leaders decry homosexuality as a "western disease" or a "white man's import", the truth is very different.

Prior to colonisation, many tribal societies and kingdoms had a more relaxed attitude to same-sex relations than their subsequent colonial occupiers.

As Rudi C Bleys documented in his book, The Geography of Perversion, the existence and, sometimes toleration, of same-sex acts was used by the colonising European nations to justify what they saw as their "civilising" mission.

To them, homosexuality among the indigenous peoples was proof of their "barbarity" and confirmation of western theories of racial superiority.

Homophobia in Africa is mostly a colonial imposition. But this is no excuse for these now-independent nations to perpetuate colonial-era anti-gay laws and attitudes.

It is time to finish the African liberation struggle by ending the persecution of gay Africans.

The writer is a human rights campaigner www.petertatchell.net

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Representative

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To promote and sell the Company...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Civil Engineering

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Business: This company is going thro...

Tradewind Recruitment: KS1 & KS2 Teachers Required

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind Recruitment are currently working...

Day In a Page

Read Next
John Rentoul outside the Houses of Parliament  

If I were Prime Minister...I would be like a free-market version of Natalie Bennett

John Rentoul
 

Letter from the Political Editor: With 100 days still to go how will Cameron, Miliband and Co. keep us all engaged?

Andrew Grice
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea