Saturday, June 13, 2015

Report examines homosexuality as part of African life


Scientific evidence shows that human sexual behaviour is naturally varied, and should not form a basis for discrimination, says a highly anticipated report from the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf).

also see: 
ASSAF REPORT ASSESSES CRIMINALISATION OF SEXUAL DIVERSITY





The report, launched at the Seventh South African AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa on 10 June, examined scientific evidence on sexual practices.

Diversity in Human Sexuality: Implications for Policy in Africa was commissioned by ASSAf partly in response to a growing number of laws outlawing homosexuality on the continent, including in Burundi, Cameroon, Nigeria and Uganda. ASSAf initiated the study together with research institutes from Africa and abroad, including the Uganda National Academy of Sciences.

“There was concern in the scientific community about a rising trend in Africa against gay people,” says Glenda Gray, co-chair of the study and president of the South African Medical Research Council. “As medical professionals, we believed Africa needed a consensus study from a panel of experts in Africa who could present the most up-to-date data and recommend future areas of research.”

The report found no scientific evidence supporting views that there homosexuality is in any way  ‘abnormal’ sexual behaviour.

“There is now a wide global consensus among scientists that homosexuality is a normal and natural variation of human sexuality without any inherently detrimental health consequences,” it says. “In this context governments have a duty to consider scientific perspectives and draw on the most current scientific knowledge when creating policy and enacting laws.”

It also did not find any evidence that sexual orientation could be altered through therapy, that parents can raise children to be gay, nor that same-sex orientations are contagious.

from the document itself:
"Socio-behavioural research demonstrates unequivocally that both heterosexual and homosexual men feel that they have/had no choice in terms of their sexual attraction. The majority of women who experience same-sex attraction also express a lack of a sense of choice in their sexual orientation, although there is evidence for much greater fluidity in sexual orientation among women of all sexual orientations. 

The study explores – and finds lacking – evidence to support the contention that the way parents bring up their children, or the relationships formed between children and parents, impact on sexual orientation. While family environment may shape other elements of sexuality and the way sexuality is expressed, and while construction of gender and sexual identities have strong social and cultural components, there is little evidence that orientation is directly correlated to family upbringing."

“Broadly speaking, there is a strong bias against LGBTI people in Africa, though it is difficult to draw a line between the mood of people in the country and those driving the legislation.”

Matthew Clayton, Triangle Project 

Instead, the report presents substantial evidence that sexual diversity has always been a normal part of human society. In fact, it concludes that tolerance of same-sex orientation benefits communities and positively affects public health, civil society and long-term economic growth.

“We found that sexual diversity is normal,” says Gray. “And if you decrease discrimination, you improve access to healthcare and management of illnesses such as HIV, and you could minimise health-related economic impacts.”

Acceptance of diverse sexual practices can also improve the mental health of people with different sexual preferences and prevent divisions within families, she says.

page 17 of the study

Homosexuality is still illegal in thirty-eight countries in Africa, according to Amnesty International.

“Broadly speaking, there is a strong bias against LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex] people in Africa, though it is difficult to draw a line between the mood of people in the country and those driving the legislation,” says Matthew Clayton, research, advocacy and policy coordinator at Triangle Project, a Cape Town-based organisation supporting the LGBTI community.

The inconsistent enforcement of anti-homosexual laws creates legal and social instability for those communities, he says.

“There is also the pervasive and untrue idea that homosexuality is ‘un-African’, and an import of the West,” he says. The report, however, flags up that there is historic evidence of homosexuality in Africa from pre-colonial times.

Clayton says the report could encourage policy makers, faith leaders and communities to learn about LGBTI people that live in their countries and “rebuff notions that can be damaging” to tolerance.

Gray shares the hope that the report may be a first step towards change.

“These are respected scientists, and by presenting their findings, their voices are hopefully heard as accurate and trustworthy and add to the mainstreaming of gender and sexual diversity,” she says.

This article was originally published on SciDev.Net. Read the original article.

ENDS

The publication also said:

"This report assesses the current global understanding of the key scientific issues involved. The panel considered the following questions: 

1. What is the evidence that biological factors contribute to sexual and gender diversity? To what degree is the wide diversity of human sexualities explained by biological factors? 

2. Do environmental factors such as upbringing and socialisation explain the diversity of human sexuality?

3. Is there any evidence for same-sex orientation being ‘acquired’ through contact with others, i.e. through ‘social contagion’? 


4. What evidence is there that any form of therapy or ‘treatment’ can change sexual orientation? 

5. What evidence is there that same-sex orientations pose a threat of harm to individuals, communities, or vulnerable populations such as children? 

6. What are the public health consequences of criminalising same-sex sexual orientations and attempting to regulate the behaviour/relationships related to some sexualities? 

7. What are the most critical unanswered scientific research questions regarding the diversity of human sexualities and sexual orientations in Africa?"

Having scanned in a first read I was expecting more cultural factors though such as innate homosexuality and same gender sex versus cultural substitutional sex or situational homosexuality between non romantic inclined same gender men per say such as in periods of hunting in packs or in pairs away from the village(s) from extended periods of time and where non penetrative play (possible partnered masturbation) is used as release during absence away from their women or wives.

I guess one thing at a time.

Peace & tolerance

H

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