Review – Queer & Trans African Mobilities

Cover of Queer and Trans African Mobilities

February is LGBTQ+History Month in the UK, and as part of our recognition of that we asked members of the Library Student Team at Manchester University to share their thoughts on some of the relevant books in our library. This is the fifth of the series of reviews.

Queer & Trans African Mobilities: Migration, Asylum & Diaspora B Camminga & John Marnell (editors) (GE.2.03/CAM)

Reviewed by Stefan Nikolov: “Hey I’m Stefan and I’m a final year Law student! I work part-time with the University library and I enjoy taking part in creative projects outside of the library”

Queer & Trans African Mobilities: Migration, Asylum & Diaspora offers a refreshing and rigorous investigation into the topics of migration and seeking asylum from the viewpoint of members of the LGBTQ+ community on the African continent. The work highlights the harm that political, cultural, and religious leaders inflict on LGBTQ+ communities by utilising the legal systems to achieve the implementation of their prejudicial policies, and penalties carrying severe punishment, and scapegoat LGBTQ+ individuals for crisis that the content has faced with the aim of instilling anxieties amongst the general public that the integration of LGBTQ+ individuals would lead to the demise, and social disintegration of Africa.  

Interestingly, however, the authors seek to highlight that those sanctions are only remnants of colonialist times when homosexuality first began to be criminalised. The authors also invite their readers to expand their thinking on migration narratives, and what being queer means for African LGBTQ+ individuals. The text touches on the difficulties that members of the LGBTQ+ community experience to fit within labels created by mostly white gay men in the West. It also looks at the topic of discrimination within LGBT+ communities, for instance, between those that decide to adhere to religious and local practices, and those that would like to witness a shift away from organised religion and customs. The book also contains agonising stories of LGBTQ+ individuals experiencing domestic violence because of their sexuality, and gender identity, false imprisonment by public authorities, as well as denial of access to healthcare.  

One topic explored multiple times throughout the book has been the crackdown by governments around Africa on social media as a safe space for LGBTQ+ individual to express their true identity, instead using platforms to identify individuals, and subject them to arrest, and in some instances, torture. When discussing asylum, the writers are critical of the system being dominated by white heterosexual men who have a confined interpretation of a refugee seeking escape from their native country on grounds of suffering persecution because of their sexual identity. Ultimately, the sentiment that LGBTQ+ people in Africa are awaiting rescue is revoked, with the writers arguing that it is change from within, and improvements at home that are needed most.