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New Left Review I/218, July-August 1996

Peter Drucker

‘In the Tropics There Is No Sin’: Sexuality and Gay–Lesbian Movements in the Third World

Same-sex erotic behaviour is virtually universal in human societies. Few societies that have been carefully studied have been found to yield no evidence of same-sex eroticism. One survey found that in forty-nine out of the seventy-six societies it examined, some form of same-sex sexual behaviour was socially acceptable. [1] Clellan S. Ford and Frank A. Beach, Patterns of Sexual Behavior, New York 1951, p. 130. But just what forms of sexuality exist and are considered acceptable varies enormously from one society to the next. Since the Stonewall rebellion in 1969, gay–lesbian movements have been rising up everywhere—including the Third World. Particularly since the 1980s, lesbians and gay men have declared their existence and formed organizations in Third World countries. Many of these people have shown extraordinary courage in being open about their lives and demanding their rights in the face of hatred and violence. Sometimes their struggle to live freely has even seemed to be directed against their own cultures and peoples, as when Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe banned the Zimbabwe Gay and Lesbian Association from an international book fair in August 1995, condemning gays as immoral and un-African.

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Peter Drucker, ‘'In the Tropics There is No Sin': Sexuality and Gay-Lesbian Movements in the Third World’, NLR I/218: £3

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