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Relationships between Importance of Religious Belief, Response to Anti-gay Violence, and Mental Health in Men who have Sex with Men in East Africa

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Chapter Summary

The situation of homosexual men (usually referred to as Men who have Sex with Men, MSM) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is one of high levels of discrimination and demonization, despite some states such as South Africa including protection based on sexual orientation in their constitutions. A recent qualitative study of MSM and religion in Cameroon by Mbetbo has illuminated the conflicts between sexual orientation and religion. Mbetbo noted that in Africa, where religion and spirituality play a major role in people's lives, homosexuality is seen not only as a sin but also as being an evil which threatens religious principles. This chapter investigates the relationship between importance of religion, Anti-gay Violence, internalized homonegativity, and depression score in Tanzanian MSM. It hypothesizes that importance of religion would significantly mediate, either potentiating or mitigating, the impact of anti-gay violence and specifically depression score.

Keywords: anti-gay violence; depression; homosexuality; Mbetbo; religious doctrines; Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA); Tanzanian MSM



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