The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), through its membership with the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI), today delivered two statements in response to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) reports of Benin and Zambia. The CAL delegation attending the 37th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), brought to the attention of the room the importance of states including and engaging with the rights of LGBTIQ people, as well as sex workers and persons with HIV. It was noted that both countries need to show more commitment towards creating legal, social and political environments that prevent the continued subjection of people to violence, discrimination and injustice.
The Coalition asked that the two countries note with concern the laws that lead to the creation of groups of criminalised bodies that are seen to deviate from the patriarchal and colonial norm. Although both Benin and Zambia accepted a key number of recommendations, CAL asked both states to go even further and honour and comply with regional and international commitments and obligations to uphold human rights and meet the repeated calls by civil society to guarantee freedom, autonomy and justice for all.
Specific to Benin, the CAL statement surfaced the pervasive effects of patriarchy and its varied manifestations in enabling violence, stigma and discrimination faced by a perceived social minority with little access to justice and recourse. The situation for LGBTIQA people, women, sex workers and girls is no different in Zambia, with increased vulnerability of people and limited or restricted access to essential services and consequently further isolation and stigma.