21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016)


What Is the Cost of Homophobia and Other Systemic Biases?

September 23, 2016


Keletso Makofane, M.P.H.

Keletso Makofane, M.P.H.

Global Forum on MSM and HIV, South Africa

There's an answer that has to do with rands [dollars] and cents. Maybe it's important work in this moment where dollars and cents and efficiencies are what we think we should be saying to our governments.

I think the cost of homophobia, though, is a human cost. ... Ultimately, the cost is distraction. In a lot of places in Africa, maybe around the world, [gay people are] a scapegoat. ... A scapegoat is any group of people who can be maligned and used to draw attention away from something else.

So the cost of homophobia is also a cost that we all bear as citizens; it's a cost of not understanding what is really happening: that there are groups of people who benefit immensely from the setup of our economic and political systems and keep us busy fighting with each other while they loot.

[The economic answer is] a double-edged sword, because we are saying that we accept a way of thinking about lives that puts lives in service of money and talks about money primarily and lives secondarily. ... We are also saying that there are people's lives for whom oppression doesn't cost us anything, or from whom we benefit when we oppress them, and so it's fine to oppress them. That is an argument that sets us back more than it advances our cause.

Credit: Olivia G. Ford.

This article was provided by It is a part of the publication The 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016).

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