Homophobia is a global issue that is still widely prevalent around the world. Many places criminalize homosexuality due to the fear, intolerance, and hatred surrounding this marginalized group. But how has homophobia become such a wide spread and global issue, and has it always been this way? There is no singular answer to this complex topic but homophobia become a commonly adopted global conception largely because of colonization.
Pre-colonization, many indigenous communities and African and Asian countries generally accepted homosexuality in ancient times, with some proof going back at least 4000 years in Egypt. In pre-colonial Africa, same-sex relationships can be shown in ethnographic evidence. Later, the European Penal Code system was forcefully implemented and this code criminalized homosexuality. There is also proof of openness towards same sex relations in ancient China within the history of the most famous dynasties dating back thousands of years. Mainstream homophobia made rise in the early Republic of China because of Westernization efforts.
Today, in 71 countries, there and regulations that deem same-sex relations illegal and over half of these countries have been under British colonial rule. British rule is the reason that almost all of these countries have inherited the outlawing of same-sex relations and around 49 of these former British colonies criminalize homosexuality today.
All this being said, it is important to recognize that homophobia was not an inherit or global trait and many post-colonial indigenous communities had functioning progressive societies that were inclusive towards homosexuality and different genders. It is also interesting to see how many of the countries around the world that still have serious homophobic issues are the ones that have been inclusive of same-sex relations post-colonialism.
Kalende, Val. “Africa: Homophobia Is a Legacy of Colonialism.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 30 Apr. 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/30/africa-homophobia-legacy-colonialism.
Kang, Wenqing. Obsession: male same-sex relations in China, 1900-1950, Hong Kong University Press. Page 3 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_China)
Westcott, Ben. “The Homophobic Legacy of the British Empire.” CNN, Cable News Network, 12 Sept. 2018, http://www.cnn.com/2018/09/11/asia/british-empire-lgbt-rights-section-377-intl/index.html.