Skip to content


David L. HabermanElias Kifon Bongmba
Rice University

Monday, April 9, 2018
5:30 pm
McClung Museum Auditorium

"Gender and Homosexuality: African Women as Targets and Victims of Homophobia"

Same sex relations and the quest for freedom in Africa are being fought on cultural, religious, political, and legal grounds. In this paper, I argue that in the homophobic and sometimes deadly situation for many members of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer people across Africa, women are disproportionately discriminated against, abused, and brutalized because they are women. These gross violations make the homosexuality debate in Africa a human rights question, but more importantly for this discussion, a gender and feminist struggle. I discuss this theme and draw illustrations from accounts of violence perpetrated against lesbians in the war unleashed on the LGBTQ community in Africa. I argue that central to the debate are two important ideals: freedom and dignity. Therefore, religious communities that have been the focus of my research, must work with state actors, non-governmental organizations, and faith based organizations to educate people on the question of difference, sexual freedom and human dignity. This will establish the grounds on which religious communities can call for a stop to the abuse of lesbians and LGBTQ persons as they address the gender dimension of homosexuality in the context of responsible citizenship.

About Elias Kifon Bongmba

Elias Kifon Bongmba holds the Harry and Hazel Chavanne Chair in Christian Theology and is Professor of Religion at Rice University. He serves as President of the African Association for the Study of Religions, a member organization of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR). Bongmba is completing a book on Same Sex Relations and the Church in Africa. He has published extensively on African religions, Christianity in Africa, the ethics of witchcraft, and the HIV/AIDS crisis.  His book, The Dialectics of Transformation in Africa, won the 2007 Franz Fanon Prize for outstanding work in Caribbean Thought.

Find out more about Elias Kifon Bongmba.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.