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State-sanctioned discrimination and media discourses on homosexuality in Namibia

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The article critically discusses the events arising from the finalization of the Namibian National HIV/AIDS Policy of 2007. A series of consultative meetings throughout Namibia produced a progressive draft policy that recognized individuals engaged in same-sex sexual relationships and emphasized the distinct vulnerabilities of the group. However, despite solid epidemiological support and stakeholders' endorsement of inclusion, the key section dealing with same-sex relations never made it into print. By using document analyses, interviews and media content analysis, the article concludes that state-sanctioned discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) individuals, outlined in existing Namibian criminal laws, also resulted in a denial of their rights to health in the new HIV/AIDS policy. Moreover, the study found that the state-sanctioned discrimination is reproduced in the state-owned print media, and that LGBT individuals are dependent on the independent media for visibility. The implications of the media discourses are discussed using an agenda setting perspective.
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Keywords: HIV/AIDS; Namibia; Sub-Saharan Africa; agenda setting; discrimination; homosexuality; media freedom

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Uppsala University.

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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