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Media's Influence on LGBTQ Support Across Africa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 August 2019

Stephen Winkler
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, University of Washington, Seattle
Corresponding
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Abstract

Political leaders across Africa frequently accuse the media of promoting homosexuality, while activists often use the media to promote pro-LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) narratives. Despite extensive research on how the media affects public opinion, including studies that show how exposure to certain information can increase support of LGBTQs, there is virtually no research on how the media influences attitudes towards LGBTQs across Africa. This study develops a theory that accounts for actors' mixed approach to the media and shows how different types of media create distinct effects on public opinion of LGBTQs. Specifically, the study finds that radio and television have no, or a negative, significant effect on pro-gay attitudes, whereas individuals who consume more newspapers, internet or social media are significantly more likely to support LGBTQs (by approximately 2 to 4 per cent). The author argues that these differential effects are conditional on censorship of queer representation from certain mediums. The analysis confirms that the results are not driven by selection effects, and that the relationship is unique to LGBTQ support but not other social attitudes. The results have important implications, especially given the growing politicization of same-sex relations and changing media consumption habits across Africa.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019 

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