Many Africans tolerant but don’t want homosexual neighbours – study

Afro-barometerA survey by Afrobarometer has found that Africans are tolerant of people from other ethnicities, religions, nationalities and persons living with HIV/AIDS but not homosexuals.

The survey conducted among 33 African countries, found that large majorities of African citizens would like or would not mind having persons of other ethnicity as neighbours (91 per cent), people of different religion (88 per cent), immigrants (81 per cent), and people with HIV/AIDS (68 per cent).

However only 21 per cent of respondents said they would like or wouldn’t mind having homosexuals as neighbours. A staggering 78 per cent also expressed a mild or strong dislike to having homosexual neighbours.

Intolerance for homosexuals is highest in the East African sub-region.

However, Afrobarometer says that “not all Africa is homophobic” and in countries such as Cape Verde, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and a few others, more than four out of ten citizens would like or would not mind having homosexuals as neighbours.

The study found that persons who had undergone post-secondary education, and within the 18 – 25 age bracket, were more likely than others to be tolerant of homosexuals, including as with all other categories assessed by the survey, persons who were urban dwellers: on ethnicity, religion, immigrants, HIV and homosexuals, urban dwellers showed more tolerance.

The study found that tolerance of different people is high where there is diversity, and tolerance for people living with HIV/AIDS is also highest in countries with high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

“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,” Afrobarometer said in a statement.

Niger, Madagascar and Sierra Leone showed the weakest tolerance for persons living with HIV/AIDS, with tolerance levels of less than 30 per cent.

According to the study’s findings, young people, men, urban dwellers, people who have had secondary or higher education and people who have higher media exposure tend to exhibit higher levels of tolerance.

“These findings suggest important policy lessons in the quest to promote tolerant attitudes on the continent. First, investment in education matters in nurturing a tolerant population. Second, news media with broad coverage can play an important role in promoting tolerance among African citizens,” the report said.

Overall, the countries found to be the most tolerant by the report were Namibia, Malawi, Burundi, Ghana and Togo, followed in succession by Tanzania, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Botswana and Liberia.

The worst performing country was Niger, followed by Tunisia, Morocco, Madagascar and Mauritius.

By Emmanuel Odonkor

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