Africa’s most and least homophobic countries

While Africa is often described as a continent that is intolerant of its varied ethnic and religious differences, surveys paint a different picture -- a high level of acceptance of other ethnic groups, religions, immigrants, and people living with HIV / AIDS. But a strongly negative attitude toward homosexuals.
While Africa is often described as a continent that is intolerant of its varied ethnic and religious differences, surveys paint a different picture — a high level of acceptance of other ethnic groups, religions, immigrants, and people living with HIV / AIDS, but a strongly negative attitude toward homosexuals.


Most tolerant countries

The Afrobarometer network, which conducts public opinion surveys in Africa, recently listed the continent’s most and least homophobic countries.

In these four African countries, the majority of residents say they would welcome or would not be bothered having a homosexual neighbor:

  • Cape Verde, 74%.
  • South Africa, 69%.
  • Mozambique, 56%.
  • Namibia, 55%.

Least tolerant countries

These five are the countries where the smallest percentage said they would welcome or would not be bothered having a homosexual neighbor:

  • Senegal, 3%.
  • Guinea, 4%.
  • Uganda, 5%.
  • Burkina Faso, 5%.
  • Niger, 5%.

Most tolerant among countries with anti-gay laws

Among countries with laws against homosexual activity, these are where residents are most tolerant of homosexuality, as measured by the percentage saying they would welcome or would not be bothered having a homosexual neighbor:

  • Namibia, 55% (where sodomy is illegal under the common law).
  • Mauritius, 49% (where the punishment for sodomy is up to 5 years in prison).
  • Botswana, 43% (where the punishment for sodomy is up to 7 years in prison).
  • Tanzania, 21% (where the punishment for sodomy is 30 years in prison).
  • Tunisia, 17% (where the punishment for sodomy is 3 years of imprisonment).
  • Morocco, 16% (where the punishment for sodomy is at least 3 months in prison).
  • Nigeria, 16% (where the punishment for sodomy is 14 years in prison).
  • Liberia, 16% (where the punishment for sodomy is up to one year in prison).
  • Kenya, 14% (where the punishment for sodomy is 5 years in prison).
Data on tolerance in Africa, presented by Afrobarometer, based on surveys conducted during 2014 and 2015.
Data on tolerance in Africa, presented by Afrobarometer, based on surveys conducted during 2014 and 2015.

The Afrobarometer study found that:

  •  Tolerance levels are particularly high in regions and countries that are ethnically and religiously diverse, suggesting that experience is an important factor in inculcating an attitude of tolerance among African citizens.
  • Similarly, tolerance for people living with HIV/AIDS is highest in countries with high HIV/AIDS prevalence, providing further evidence that intolerance and stigmatization can be unlearned through personal encounters.
  • Christians, urban residents, and younger citizens tend to be more tolerant than, respectively, Muslims, rural residents, and older people.

Because today’s younger Africans tend to be more tolerant than their elders, the study concluded that “while current attitudes are largely negative, it is possible that Africa will become progressively less homophobic over time.”

The report added:

“While our data do not yet permit analysis of trends over time, the findings of this study tell us that tolerance in Africa is not a constant. Rather, it can be nurtured and learned.

“In addition to the likely effects of contact with people of different backgrounds, education and news media exposure are drivers of a tolerant society, as more educated individuals and those who have greater exposure to the media tend to embrace more tolerant attitudes.

“The fact that younger citizens are more tolerant than their elders also bodes well for an increasingly tolerant future in Africa.”

For more information, read the full Afrobarometer report.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

8 Comments

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  1. The murdering of another human being no matter why he or she is killed without a judicial trial is not only inhumane but a great lack of respect for life itself. One can not be pro-life and then, on the other hand, imprison or take a life from one’s being in adopting prejudicial discriminatory notions, base on hate or frivolous antiquated religious doctrines or laws.

    Inasmuch as everyone in the world is born either female or a male they are anatomically and basically, the same. However, not everyone’s mind is the same. We all have our likes and dislikes and our personal preferences, which is just that personal and as such should be kept personal.

    However when your personal likes and dislikes steps beyond the threshold barrier of invading the personal space of another human being without their knowledge or permission, then one is crossing the line towards creating unnecessary problems where there need to be none.

    However, where there is sexual atrocities as in the Domer case of cannibalism and of such types heinous sexual crimes, this is where the public and the judicial system has to step in and indict. Otherwise what you do sexually in disagreement with one’s religion or just the general consensus of your county’s society is between you and God, even if you do not believe in a God.

    When you have a government law created to noisy in on people’s personal lives in what they do with each other in the privacy if their bedrooms it is no one’s busy unless they are pedophiles or sexual molesters and in rape invading without permission one’s sexuality.

    • you talk about tolerance yet….

      no matter why* he or she* is killed- everyone in the world is born either *female or a male*-
      this is EXTREMELY binary, transphobic and offensive. you are discriminating people that are intersex by practically saying they don’t exist, and you are using binary pronouns when there are people that DO NOT identify as a he or a she.

      One can not be pro-life and then, on the other hand, imprison or take a life-
      i can assure you, that i am 101% against infanticide [unless life and death situation] but if i could get away with it, i’d use medieval torture methods to kill pedophiles.

      which is just that personal and as such should be kept personal.-
      tell THAT to heterosexuals that parade around kissing and heavily petting wherever they damn well please.

      is between you and God, even if you do not believe in a God.
      and now you’re discriminating and invalidating atheists by saying there is a god even if they don’t believe in it. there’s more proof that a ‘god’ doesn’t exist than there is of one existing.

      do you realize what a hypocrite you’re being? and how INTOLERANT you are being?

      out of the [let’s say] 10 things you’ve said, 2 of them are actually not bullshit.

    • WTF???? that person is being so intolerant and you call them wise??????? they are discriminating intersex people, they are discriminating transgender/agender people, they are being BINARY, they are discriminating atheists…..

      you are just as bad as they are if you believe they’re being “wise” and that you wish more people had their “insight.”

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