Accounting for the increasing securitization of LGBTI groups in sub-Saharan African states

Ridley, Martin Edwin (2017) Accounting for the increasing securitization of LGBTI groups in sub-Saharan African states. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


Societies in Sub-Saharan African states demonstrate a growing hostility towards sexual minorities. SSA states have politicized LGBTI identity and characterized it as being not an authentic African identity, but a product of Western values. LGBTI identity being characterized as an existential threat to the very moral identity of SSA societies; this environment has facilitated the construction of a climate of fear for LGBTI groups that in some SSA states has led to the securitization of LGBTI citizens. The research for this thesis evidences the role of political actors residing in SSA states, working actively with and funded by international conservative and religious organizations mainly from the USA. These actors share both the goal of preventing LGBTI rights emerging in SSA states and achieving the securitization or politicization of LGBTI identity. The narrative is positioned within inter-subjectively constructed meanings of identity; an African and religious identity which is seen as traditional and conservative, mainly either Christian or Islamic. A securitization process has emerged in some SSA states such as Uganda where the question of identity has been framed as an existential question. The changes required to incorporate acceptance of LGBTI identities in Uganda together with any legitimacy given to those relationships, is posited as an existential threat to the traditional African and religiously conservative moral identity so fundamental to Ugandan identity. Other states such as Ghana and Kenya have politicized and criminalized LGBTI identity, are hostile to any rights for those groups and continue to reject it across society; but importantly have not securitized those groups as found elsewhere on the continent. The role of religious conservatives is primarily in providing leadership within communities and pressure on politicians to reject what they see as an ontological assault that threatens the very identity of the state and society. Not only are LGBTI communities denied the right to make individual choices about their social, political, personal or economic futures in African societies. They are exposed to harsh laws or family or group/tribal actions that are sometimes life threatening to those not conforming to accepted social norms.

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