Episodes

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20161220

Charles Adesina explores what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender in Africa.

Africa has been called the world's most homophobic continent. In the majority of African countries, homosexual activity is illegal, with long jail sentences or worse awaiting those who break anti-gay laws.

Charles Adesina, a filmmaker and gay man with Nigerian roots, goes on a personal exploration to discover how deep homophobia really runs in families and communities. He hears about Africa's own rich heritage of same-sex relationships (including female healers who explain their lesbianism by saying that they are possessed by a male ancestor) and examines how colonial history and religion have influenced social attitudes to LGBT people in Africa today.

The role of parents in helping their LGBT children find acceptance, he discovers, is key.

In South Africa, Charles meets a group of courageous grandmothers ("Gogos" in Zulu) who have taken it upon themselves to learn what it means to be lesbian or gay, and defend their LGBT grandchildren from family hostility. He visits Mpho Tutu-van Furth, daughter of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who famously said that he would never worship a homophobic God. Mpho, herself an Anglican priest, married a woman last year - and argues that a God of love cannot be opposed to the kind of loving relationship she shares with her wife.

Charles also visits Cape Town's People's Mosque to hear the story of openly gay Imam Muhsin Hendricks, who works with LGBT Muslims and their parents to convince them that a compassionate understanding of Islam embraces people regardless of their sexuality. Yet it becomes clear that cultural change will be inevitably slow.

A CTVC Radio production for BBC Radio 4.