Reimagining Christianity and Sexual Diversity in Africa

Part of the African Arguments series
Available as an eBook
EU Customers


Religion is often seen as a conservative force in contemporary Africa. In particular, Christian beliefs and actors are usually depicted as driving the opposition to homosexuality and LGBTI rights in African societies. This book nuances that picture, by drawing attention to discourses emerging in Africa itself that engage with religion, specifically Christianity, in progressive and innovative ways—in support of sexual diversity and the quest for justice for LGBTI people.

The authors show not only that African Christian traditions harbour strong potential for countering conservative anti-LGBTI dynamics; but also that this potential has already begun to be realised, by various thinkers, activists and movements across the continent. Their ten case studies document how leading African writers are reimagining Christian thought; how several Christian-inspired groups are transforming religious practice; and how African cultural production creatively appropriates Christian beliefs and symbols. In short, the book explores Christianity as a major resource for a liberating imagination and politics of sexuality and social justice in Africa today.

Foregrounding African agency and progressive religious thought, this highly original intervention counterbalances our knowledge of secular approaches to LGBTI rights in Africa, and powerfully decolonises queer theory, theology and politics.


‘Providing detailed, in-depth analysis of the work of African Christian intellectuals, Christian organizations, and queer African artists, this volume contributes significant insight into the viewpoints of African Christians in ways that challenge popular representations of Christian adherents.’ — African Studies Review

‘One step out of naïvety and towards maturity is taken simply by reading this book.’ — Church Times

‘In this wide-ranging and pathbreaking text, authors Adriaan van Klinken and Ezra Chitando provide a rich and accessible account of the diverse ways African public intellectuals, theologians, artists, and activists in the contemporary moment engage Christianity as a productive source for expanding the bounds of sexual citizenship in Africa.’ — Journal of Religion in Africa 

‘This is a vigorous, robustly argued account of the relationship between African Christianity and debates about sexual diversity by two outstanding scholars in the field.’ — Studies in World Christianity

‘The authors draw on the teachings of African Christian theologians to underscore the message that the radical inclusivity of the Christian Gospel both embraces sexual minorities and that sexual minorities have always had a place in African history and culture.’ — The Rev. Canon Mpho Tutu van Furth, priest, author, artist, and CEO of the Tutu Teach Foundation

‘A rich and well-crafted contribution to an ongoing conversation on homosexuality in Christian circles in Africa. Stimulating and thought-provoking—it makes good reading.’ — Ludovic Lado, Director of the Centre d’Etude et de Formation pour le Développement, N’Djamena, and author of Catholic Pentecostalism and The Paradoxes of Africanization

‘In this accessible and engaging book, van Klinken and Chitando offer unique scope for the reimagination of queer African Christianity. The nuanced accounts of queer agency frames, shapes, and disrupts the field, beyond conventional tropes and conceptions about Africa and Christianity.’ — Sarojini Nadar, activist, and Director of the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice

‘Van Klinken and Chitando, leading scholars of African religious discourse and interdisciplinary studies, offer critical insights into rethinking sexual diversity in Africa. This book is a significant contribution to studies of sexuality and human rights across the continent.’ — Elias Kifon Bongmba, Harry and Hazel Chavanne Chair in Christian Theology, Rice University



Ezra Chitando is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Zimbabwe, and Theology Consultant on HIV/AIDS for the World Council of Churches.

Adriaan van Klinken is Professor of Religion and African Studies at the University of Leeds, and Extraordinary Professor at the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice.

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