Confronting homophobia in South Africa
Ukwazana Program posters. Credit: Anova Health Institute
"Being gay is not a sickness or a choice." This is just one of the uncompromising messages in a bold poster campaign being rolled out by the newly launched Ukwazana Programme which works in the sprawling townships around Cape Town. Another of its messages reads: "We are all men, we are all African, some of us love other men."
The isiXhosa word Ukwazana translates as bringing people together: this is the mission at the heart of the program. Instigated by Health4Men (a project of the South African Anova Health Institute) working in partnership with the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies, the campaign aims to reach out to the many men who are unable to be open about their sexuality and are therefore unable to access basic healthcare to prevent HIV/AIDS infection.
The plain-speaking posters are just a small part of a far broader project designed to confront homo-prejudice, build social capital, and sensitise law enforcement and clinical staff about the health needs of township Men who have Sex with Men (MSM).
In developing messages and initiatives that speak directly to MSM, and challenge some of the deep-seated and destructive prejudices associated with homosexuality in Africa, the Ukwazana programme has drawn on research carried out by Cambridge University academic Dr. Andrew Tucker. For the past eight years, he has been working in Uganda and South Africa with gay communities affected by HIV/AIDS and homophobia and in particular looking at gay men in deprived communities and uptake of healthcare provision.
Dr. Tucker, who helped to set up and currently consults on the Ukwazana Programme, had long seen the need for a more socially-orientated approach towards engaging MSM in places like Cape Town. As he explained, the provision of condoms and information is not enough to reduce HIV spread in places with gross social inequalities: It is vital that the deep-rooted structural barriers that can limit health-seeking behaviour are also addressed.
At Cambridge University, Dr. Tucker is the Deputy Director of the Centre for Gender Studies in the Department of Geography. His research focuses on understanding the diverse ways in which same-sex desire can become visible in different communities in Africa and explores ways of servicing often marginalised groups with health services. He was also a close friend of David Kato, the gay rights activist recently murdered in Uganda. At Dr Tuckers invitation, Kato came to Cambridge in February 2010 to explain what it was like to be a gay man fighting a state which did not care for the HIV health needs of marginalised gay men.
David Katos personal struggle as an individual and as a campaigner drew attention to a complex set of challenges that besets the whole of Africa, causing untold misery. Many gay men remain unable to access HIV treatment and care. said Dr. Tucker. Attempts to import simplistic and patronising copies of Western rights into African cultures have created more problems. The role of the evangelical church in encouraging extreme views is yet another factor in the escalating fear and panic about homosexuality.
South Africa is the only African country to have a constitution that protects sexual minorities and formally recognizes same-sex marriages. However, recent research by Dr. Tucker in the Cape Town region strongly suggests that gay rights are an exclusive privilege of the white and well-heeled a small but high profile subset. He says: If youre well off you can live the kind of lifestyle that allows you to be yourself. Millions of men living in poverty in the townships suffer sustained discrimination and are thus unable to access the healthcare they so desperately need. Their needs are largely ignored.
Dr. Tucker believes that homo-prejudice must be directly confronted to reduce discrimination, increase self-esteem, and encourage men to engage in health-seeking behavior. Vast numbers of men in Africa remain isolated and therefore cut off from wider friendship support networks and access to health services. Many live out their lives bereft of love and, because of their extreme marginalisation from wider society, never receive the medical treatment now freely available to others, he said.
Provided by University of Cambridge
- African men who have sex with men are ostracised from HIV services Jul 20, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Different HIV rates among gay men and straight people not fully explained by sexual behavior Sep 13, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- High HIV infection rate among Soweto Township gays Aug 31, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- L.A. billboards say AIDS a 'gay' disease Oct 02, 2006 | not rated yet | 0
- Black gay men may be at increased HIV risk Jun 29, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers in the US has shown that an ancient virus can be modified to help in the fight against the simian immunodeficiency virus SIV, which is the equivalent in monkeys ...
HIV & AIDS 20 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Detection of HIV antibodies is used to diagnose HIV infection and monitor trials of experimental HIV/AIDS vaccines. New, more sensitive detection systems being developed use microspheres to capture HIV antibodies ...
HIV & AIDS May 23, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
(HealthDay)—For HIV-infected individuals with recurrent Clostridium difficile infection, fecal microbiota therapy is feasible, according to a letter published in the May 21 issue of the Annals of Intern ...
HIV & AIDS May 22, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Canadian health authorities lifted Wednesday what was effectively a ban on gay men giving blood, announcing new rules making men who have not had sex with men in the past five years eligible.
HIV & AIDS May 22, 2013 | not rated yet | 1
Two mutations central to the development of infantile myofibromatosis (IM)—a disorder characterized by multiple tumors involving the skin, bone, and soft tissue—may provide new therapeutic targets, according to researchers ...
15 hours ago | 3 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Women at a particular stage in their monthly menstrual cycle may be more vulnerable to some of the psychological side-effects associated with stressful experiences, according to a study from UCL.
17 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Ernie Pyle – an iconic war correspondent in World War II – reportedly said "There are no atheists in foxholes." A new joint study between two brothers at Cornell and Virginia Wesleyan found that only ...
20 hours ago | 2.5 / 5 (4) | 2
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to ...
18 hours ago | 5 / 5 (5) | 0 |
How can healthy people who hear voices help schizophrenics? Finding the answer for this is at the centre of research conducted at the University of Bergen.
20 hours ago | 4 / 5 (2) | 2
(Medical Xpress)—The way Alzheimer's disease is portrayed by advocacy groups and the media is having undue influence on the euthanasia debate, according to a Deakin University nursing ethics professor.
22 hours ago | not rated yet | 2