Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

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Perverts and sodomites: homophobia as hate speech in Africa

Vasu Reddy


This article profiles homophobia as a form of hate speech in the African context by locating the issue of homophobia and hate speech primarily within the context of language and gender. The article draws on insights from language and gender, queer theory, discourse analysis and Foucauldian post-structuralism to offer a preliminary reading of homophobia as a form of hate speech. It seeks to provide a better understanding of homophobia by analysing the linguistic choices that speakers make in a particular context or situation; and to explain how the choices are intrinsically linked to issues of gender, language and power. Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Egypt are used as primary examples, and data are drawn from media reports in both the print and electronic format. The conclusions show how homophobia and hate speech threaten democracy and human rights.

(S/ern Af Linguistics & Applied Language Stud: 2002 20(3): 163-175)
AJOL African Journals Online