The journal Religion has just published my article ‘Gay Rights, the Devil and the End Times: Public Religion and the Enchantment of the Homosexuality Debate in Zambia‘.
The article seeks to contribute to the understanding of the role of religion in the public and political controversies about homosexuality in Africa. As a case study it investigates the public debate in Zambia following a February 2012 visit by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who emphasised the need for the country to recognise the human rights of homosexuals. I was in Zambia around that time and found myself in the middle of this heated and fascinating debate that at the same time, however, was painful and confrontational. In this article I focus on a particular Christian discourse in this debate, in which the international pressure to recognise gay rights is considered a sign of the end times, and Ban Ki-moon, the UN and other international organisations are associated with the Antichrist and the Devil. Here, the debate about homosexuality becomes eschatologically enchanted through millennialist thought. Building on discussions about public religion and religion and politics in Africa, I try to avoid popular explanations in terms of fundamentalist religion and African homophobia, but rather to highlight the political signiﬁcance of this discourse in a postcolonial African context.
Thanks to a grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, the article is published in open access, meaning that everybody can download and read it for free. Please follow this link.