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International News

Black Britain Urged to Accept Gay Men

November 18, 2002

The Terence Higgins Trust, the United Kingdom's leading HIV/AIDS charity, is launching a campaign to tackle homophobia within black communities. It warns the long-term impact of persistent homophobia will be a worsening HIV/AIDS situation, as men remain afraid to come out. Simon Nelson of the trust said it is difficult to get black men to be open because of a culture totally opposed to homosexuality. "Most of the men I try and reach are married or have girlfriends. Because of the homophobia among black families, these men would never openly identify with being gay."

Nelson says these men face explicit or subtle homophobia in all parts of their communities, particularly in black churches. Older generations or siblings would often take a Victorian attitude towards sexuality, passed down through the inherited social conservatism of the Caribbean or Africa, said Nelson. "The black community rarely gets an opportunity to discuss the issue," he said. "Many people automatically associate homosexuality with white middle class men."

Nelson said, "The most worrying aspect is that a lot of the homophobia in Britain is coming from young men. There's black music with homophobic lyrics. And because it isn't challenged, they think it gives them the right to be homophobic."

Nelson said organizations such as the Terrence Higgins Trust struggle to educate many black men on HIV transmission. Men who fear they may be infected are often afraid to seek help. "There's a problem in the UK of health promotion campaigns failing to recognize black or African men have sex with other men," he said. "But if we are going to deal with HIV and AIDS, then we have to talk about the routes of transmission. The sad thing is nobody is talking about it. It's not passed by a butterfly landing on people. It's total denial," said Nelson.

Back to other CDC news for November 18, 2002

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
BBC News
11.14.02; Dominic Casciani

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More News on HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom