Broadening the Scope of Poverty and Sexuality: Should Non-Conforming Sexuality be a Dimension of Development?
Abstract: The existence and deepening of (global) poverty and inequality is at the core of development. However, the close connection between non-conforming sexuality and poverty is habitually overlooked. The study seeks to underpin that non-conforming sexuality should be a dimension of the social development paradigm. Thus, the study explores the connections between the public construct of homosexuality, experienced sexuality-based deprivations and understandings of freedom in the case of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals in Kampala, Uganda. For this purpose, ten weeks exploratory fieldwork was conducted in Kampala from late January to early April 2015. The data collection included triangulation of eight weeks of participant observation and eleven qualitative semi-structured interviews with self-identified LGBT individuals. The findings were thematically analysed, and theorized with the capability approach. The study finds that the socio-structural poverties such as social ostracism from family, culture and religion are constitutive of LGBT individuals’ lived experiences in Kampala. Furthermore, the study shows that LGBT individuals in Kampala are deprived of any free sexual agency to choose how to be, what to be and with whom to be publicly and privately. The study thus concludes, if the social development paradigm is to adhere to its own definition of development as freedom, it needs to stop overlooking the connection between non-conforming sexuality and poverty.
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