The Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL] is Moving!

movingDear members, partners and feminist friends,

This is to inform you that the offices of the Coalition of African Lesbians is moving to a new location, still in Johannesburg, which will be shared once we have settled in. We will no longer be located at Forum II, Old Historical Building at the Braampark Office Park on 33 Hoofd Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Because of this movement, our internet connection and our phone-lines are unavailable at the moment, and we plead your understanding during this moment of transition. We are working towards ensuring that we are up and running as usual by next week Monday 10 August.
Also, as a result, our server is down, and therefore we cannot receive any mail via the cal.org.za domain. Please see below for a number to call to access alternative email addresses that you can use to contact CAL staff during this time. For safety and privacy reasons we cannot publicly post personal email addresses at this time.
We are excited for the move and the growth and are thankful for your understanding during this time.
For any inquiries regarding the upcoming CAL General Assembly, please contact Donna Smith at powersource.smith@gmail.com.
In case of an urgent need to contact CAL, please call : +27 76 918 3515
See you at our new place!
Sincerely,
CAL Secretariat

Vacancies at the Coalition of African Lesbians: Deadline 12 July 2015

logo cal2013

The Secretariat of Coalition of African Lesbians continues to grow, including in numbers of staff!

We are concluding our recruitment process for Phase I which entailed senior staff: Operations Manager; Learning and Development Manager and Advocacy Manager. As part of the PHASE II of the Recruitment Project at the Coalition of African Lesbians, we are pleased to circulate our Call for applications for these newly created positions:

  1. Programme Coordinator: East Africa [Location East Africa]
  2. Programme Coordinator: Southern Africa [Location Southern Africa]
  3. Programme Coordinator: West and Central Africa [Location West or Central Africa]
  4. Project Manager [Location negotiable]
  5. Communications Officer [Location negotiable]

Those interested in being a part of an active vibrant team and an organisation committed to radical African lesbian feminist organising and who meet the criteria should apply by submitting

  • Motivation letter
  • Up to date CV
  • 3 Contactable references

NOTE:

1. Applications will be assessed and shortlisted and interviews scheduled as these are received – that is, on a rolling basis

2. Applicants who have not received written feedback from us by 10 July requested to assume that their application has been unsuccessful.

NEW POSITIONS AT CAL

 1.       Programme Coordinator: East Africa

2.       Programme Coordinator: Southern Africa

3.       Programme Coordinator: West and Central Africa

These three positions are new middle management positions located within the sub-regions. They are part of the Learning and Development Team. The positions are intended to strengthen CAL investments in our members and partners and for in-country feminist organising and sustainability. The work includes learning and development, developing our in country and sub-regional campaigning with members and partners and ensuring the links between work at the local and the international levels. The successful candidate will also manage our work to respond to emergencies related to human rights defenders in the sub-regions.

Requirements:

  • A deep understanding of the political, economic and social contexts in Africa and globally
  • A feminist with knowledge of models of change and approaches to change work
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong management and coordination skills and experience
  • Vision and strategic thinking and the ability to lead with others and be proactive and self-driven

4.       Project Manager

This position is to be located within the Coordination function of CAL and is in support of the role of Director of CAL. The purpose is to enable planning processes, oversee the monitoring and tracking of plans, manage information and support the Programme team to deliver efficiently and effectively on agreements and plans.

Requirements:

  • A deep understanding of the political, economic and social contexts in Africa and globally
  • A feminist with knowledge of models of change and approaches to change work
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Training and experience in managing complex projects at multiple levels [national through regional to international] with multiple donors
  • Demonstrated skills in planning, monitoring and evaluation
  • A strong track record in working both in proactive programming and in emergency responses

5.       Communications Officer

This position is intended to support proactive communications work internally [within and between Secretariat, Board, and members] and between these internal structures and our core, strategic, solidarity and donor partners. It is also intended to manage responsive communications related to the organisation. It is based on our commitment to deepening transparency in our organising and management and to maximising participation and leadership in our decision making and strengthening good governance as a Coalition.

Requirements:

  • A deep understanding of the political, economic and social contexts in Africa and globally
  • A feminist with knowledge of models of change and approaches to change work
  • Training and significant experience in communications, including “corporate” communications at a planning and implementation level

Kindly assist us by forwarding this advertisement to your networks and encourage applications.

 PLEASE MARK JOBS@CAL IN SUBJECT- LINE AND SEND TO: dawn@cal.org.za

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS 5 P.M. NAIROBI TIME on FRIDAY 12 JULY 2015

STATEMENT ON DECISION OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS TO GRANT OBSERVER STATUS TO THE COALITION OF AFRICAN LESBIANS [CAL]

logo cal2013Friday, 25 April 2015

Banjul, Gambia

The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) congratulates the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (The African Commission)  for their decision to grant CAL Observer Status at the Commission today, 25 April 2015. The decision follows the submission of a new application by the Coalition of African Lesbians in August 2014.

The re-submission of the application follows a drawn-out process spanning seven(7) years from the initial application in 2008 and the rejection in October 2010. At the time, the African Commission cited in their letter of decline; “The ACHPR decided, after a vote, not to grant Observer Status to the Coalition for African Lesbians (CAL), South Africa, whose application had been pending before it. The reason being that, the activities of the said Organisation do not promote and protect any of the rights enshrined in the African Charter.”  A major Africa wide[1] campaign calling for the African Commission to reconsider the decision followed from the October 2010 session of the African Commission to the present.

The granting of observer status to the Coalition of African Lesbians means that the Coalition can now engage at the Commission as a recognised NGO and speak on our own behalf and in our own name. Further, it contributes to the recognition of the rights of women human rights defenders to defend human rights and to the recognition of sexuality and gender. For CAL, this move also signals the critical role of asserting our entitlements, rights and claims and of sustaining resistance to anything and anyone who refuses to recognise our humanity, sexuality and gender. It also lays to rest the argument that organisations like CAL can work to protect but never to promote human rights. This argument has been a contentious issue for the Commission. It opens door for all other organisations working on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression to request observer status before the African Commission

Overall, the decision leads to the strengthening of CAL and our partners engaging at this key African human rights body that is primarily tasked with the protection and promotion of human rights  for all. The Observer status allows CAL and its partners to build on the landmark Resolution 275[2] and the progressive Report on Violence Based on Real or Perceived Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Africa[3]

While spaces to engage in issues related to social justice and human rights continue to shrink on the continent and globally, the granting of observer status to the Coalition of African Lesbians is a milestone in the African human rights system and indicates commitment from the Commission to the principles of the African Charter on Human Rights, in particular article 2 of which states:

Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.

This decision is also in keeping with the Commission’s evolving jurisprudence on Freedom of association that is enshrined in article 10(1) of the African Charter:

Every individual shall have the right to free association provided that he abides by the law.

CAL commend the efforts of all those in civil society who have worked alongside us and the African Commission itself to bring to fruition this decision. Our rights to autonomy over our bodies and lives, to defend human rights, particularly women’s rights and rights related to sexuality and gender and our rights to organise and express ourselves in private and public spaces is increasingly being affirmed in multiple policies, legal standards and in various institutions.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT

1. Fadzai Muparutsa                       fadzai@cal.org.za                             + 27 727 071 607

2. Sheena Magenya                        sheena@cal.org.za                          + 27 735 598 693

3. Sibongile Ndashe                        sibongile@the-isla.org                   +27 721 367 988

______________________________________________________________

The Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL] is network of 19 organisations working to transform Africa into a continent where lesbian and bisexual women and gender non-conforming people enjoy the full range of human rights, secure in the knowledge that we are recognised as full persons and citizens, with rich and diverse cultures, and enjoy a significant and respected presence in all spheres of life.

The work of CAL is shaped by an African feminist understanding, informed by research, and strengthened by the claiming of social, political and economic power, and the disruption of hetero-patriarchal structures of control and oppression. Our understanding of feminism is dynamic and evolves as it emerges in feminist practise and reflects on its meanings. We embrace a feminism that condemns, makes visible and challenges oppressive power against people on the basis of race, sex, (dis)ability, age, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation and expression and that excludes on these and social, political and economic grounds.


 

[2]Resolution on Protection against Violence and other Human Rights Violations against Persons on the basis of their real or imputed Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity http://www.achpr.org/sessions/55th/resolutions/275/


 

 

STATEMENT OF OUTRAGE AND RESISTANCE FROM THE COALITION OF AFRICAN LESBIANS [CAL] AT THE 59TH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN [CSW]

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Dakar, Nairobi, Johannesburg,  and New York

19 March 2015

The Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL], [i]a women’s rights organisation with members in 19 African countries, salutes all those states and civil society actors who contributed to and shaped the powerful outcomes at this 59th Commission on the Status of Women [CSW], 20 years since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action. The Platform has been a powerful standard and influence in shaping the way that women’s rights has been thought about and actioned.  We further commend the efforts of those who have worked consistently to ensure meaningful participation and engagement of civil society in the multiple UN processes. We particularly note and commend the space that has been created and expanded over the years to enable this participation at the Commission on the Status of Women.

We bring to the attention of state and non-state actors the factors that have led to the deepening hostility of the women lives and women human rights defenders. These factors include, militarization, cultural and religious fundamentalisms, economic and social inequalities and geographical and environmental contexts.   The goal of advancing women’s rights and gender equality cannot become a reality unless these systemic conditions are recognized and systematically addressed. We demand that states take urgent, accountable and sustained measures to confront these systems of subjugation that continue to oppress all people, especially women and women human rights defenders.

This March 2015 at the Commission on the Status of Women, a number of alarming trends have come to our attention and we hereby place on record our deep disappointment and outrage at the process of decision making for this Session and hereby:

  1. Raise alarm at the way space for genuine inclusion, engagement, resistance and expression of women’s rights, including women human rights defenders and others from civil society concerned with the human rights of women, has been shrinking in recent years at the Commission on the Status of Women.
  2. Bring urgent attention to  states and civil society everywhere the deliberate
    exclusion of civil society organisations and social movements concerned with social justice in the process of developing the Political Declaration; a document which should reflect the lived realities of all women as well as the hostile contexts – social, political and economic – that women are confronted with daily. The Commission on the Status of Women is aimed at advancing gender equality. The lack of participation by women and women’s rights activists and women human rights defenders makes a mockery of that aim as the process and content of this Political Declaration has not been inclusive of civil society. We believe that the truths, the struggles, the politics and the realities of women is largely absent from the document as a result of this exclusion. This exclusion is unacceptable.
  3. Call attention to and expose the tokenism with which civil society is engaged with at the Commission on the Status of Women. While engagements at the Commission on the Status of Women require that there be representation of non-governmental and civil society organisations, as well as member states input, there is very little genuine interest from states to engage, whether locally, regionally or internationally with civil society organisations and to partner and work towards the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and related standards such as the Beijing +20 Review.
  4. Condemn the removal of critical language which demonstrates the reluctance of states to acknowledge and confront the issues that women have been and continue to mobilise. This includes the exclusion of language on human rights; women human rights defenders; sexual orientation and gender identity and expression; feminism; sexual and reproductive health and rights; sex work. States have excluded this language as though this act erases the realities women face everywhere. We cannot be made invisible. Our issues and the ideas we have built over decades and even centuries cannot be erased by any institution and/or group and certainly should not be erased by a body set up to advance gender equality and the rights of women.
  5. Disturbed at the exclusion of and failure to recognise in 2015 the right to autonomy of women over our bodies and lives and further at the demonstration of the lack of commitment to gender equality in the very act of excluding this language.
  6. Notes with dismay and challenges states and others who have enabled and created the increased investment in organising men to speak on behalf of and for women and our rights. We also condemn the exclusion of and failure to invest in the diversity of women, including women organising and working in grassroots contexts.

 

The Coalition of African Lesbians therefore demands:

  1. That the Commission on the Status of Women return to its primary ethos [ii] founded in the radical and transformative coming together of diverse women, and the recognition of the intersection of struggles, established twenty years ago at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.
  2. That the Commission on the Status of Women ensures the meaningful participation of women from civil society organisations and movements in contributing to and influencing the decisions and commitments expressed through the language of key documents at the Commission on the Status of Women. Including to reflect the daily struggles, the politics and the realities of women which should be informing our work.
  3. That states operating to advance gender equality at the Commission on the Status of Women and elsewhere, recognise that such advancement is not compatible with the culture of treating women like minors, possessions and as needing protection. We demand that states begin to understand and accept that women are human beings with rights, including the right to freedom and dignity and autonomy over our bodies and lives. Neither states nor men can own us. Both states and men must relinquish their oppressive power over our bodies and lives and get on with the work of ensuring accountable, transparent and participatory democracy both as individual states and as collectives in these intergovernmental spaces. This applies to both the economic/global north and economic/global south states.
  4. That states ensure that UN Women be empowered to fulfil their true role in acting to advance women’s rights and gender equality across the globe for all women in all contexts and that constraints by state and non-state actors on the role of UN Women and others be removed.


[i] The Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL] is network of organisations working to transform Africa into a continent where lesbian and bisexual women and gender non-conforming people enjoy the full range of human rights, secure in the knowledge that we are recognised as full persons and citizens, with rich and diverse cultures, and enjoy a significant and respected presence in all spheres of life. The Coalition subscribes to the philosophy of Radical African Lesbian Feminism [RALF]. The work of CAL is shaped by an African feminist understanding, informed by research, and strengthened by the claiming of social, political and economic power, and the disruption of hetero-patriarchal structures of control and oppression. Our understanding of feminism is dynamic and evolves as it emerges in feminist practise and reflects on its meanings. We embrace a feminism that condemns, makes visible and challenges oppressive power against people on the basis of race, sex, (dis)ability, age, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation and expression and that excludes on these and social, political and economic grounds.

[ii] Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action [Beijing, China - September 1995: Mission Statement-Point 5]: The success of the Platform for Action will require a strong commitment on the part of Governments, international organizations and institutions at all levels. It will also require adequate mobilization of resources at the national and international levels as well as new and additional resources to the developing countries from all available funding mechanisms, including multilateral, bilateral and private sources for the advancement of women; financial resources to strengthen the capacity of national, subregional, regional and international institutions; a commitment to equal rights, equal responsibilities and equal opportunities and to the equal participation of women and men in all national, regional and international bodies and policy- making processes; and the establishment or strengthening of mechanisms at all levels for accountability to the world’s women.

Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL]

Media Contact: Sheena Magenya

Email: sheena@cal.org.za

Telephone: 00 27 11 403 0004/7

Reflections and thoughts on the Passing of the followup Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity [SOGI] at the United Nations Human Rights Council

Photograph courtesy of citypress.co.za

Photograph courtesy of citypress.co.za

CAL Director, Dawn Cavanagh, shared some thoughts with AWID [Association for Women’s Rights in Development] FRIDAY FILE about the process, and substance behind the recent passing of the follow up Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity at 27th Session of the United Nation’s Human Right Council.

This interview was first published on the AWID website.

All copyright enquiries should be directed towards AWID.   

The Right To Autonomy Over Our Bodies And Loves: The

Resolution On Human Rights, Sexual Orientation And Gender

Identity Furthers Dialogue

FRIDAY FILE – AWID spoke to Dawn Cavanagh* of the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) in South Africa and Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI), about the significance of the resolution on Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity recently adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council.  The resolution follows the first ever UN resolution adopted on SOGI three years ago. -By Shareen Gokal

AWID: The United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution on SOGI in 2011, why was a follow-up resolution important?

Dawn Cavanagh (DC): It is important for a number of reasons. I will focus on one that has implications for many other “sensitive” or “controversial” issues. There is an understanding and a tradition at the Human Rights Council (HRC) that resolutions come up every two years and that there is a systematic building on what has been adopted in earlier resolutions.

It is bad precedent to have any resolution and certainly one on sexual orientation and gender identity, to have missed the two year mark and then the three year mark and not to have any follow up Resolution. Moreover, it opens up the door to us succumbing to leadership failure on key human rights issues at the HRC.

For some of us the passing of this second resolution was an assertion that this issue is still important; still a human rights issue and an issue that the HRC needs to address. It was a way to assert and insist on our right to freedom and autonomy over our bodies and lives and to resist the growing hostility and “backlash” by state and non-state actors worldwide. It was about autonomy over our bodies and lives as women, as sex workers, as people living with HIV and as gender non-conforming people, amongst others… It was time. Even with a watered down text.

AWID: This resolution was tabled by Chile, Uruguay, Colombia and Brazil, what is the significance of this?

DC: There was an allegation that the Latin American states were leading on this Resolution due to pressure from the global north. However, Sonia Corrêa, Research Associate at Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de AIDS (ABIA) and co-chair of Sexuality Policy Watch, has been sharing with us the long track record of Latin American states taking progressive stances on sexual orientation and gender identity in many inter-governmental and multi-lateral spaces. We know that a few years ago Brazil took the bold step of tabling a Resolution on human rights and sexual orientation at the then Human Rights Commission now Human Rights Council. It was withdrawn without a vote, but in June 2011 Brazil co-sponsored the Resolution 17/19 on Human Rights and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

The Resolution was led by Chile, Uruguay, Colombia and Brazil when it became clear that South Africa was not planning to bring a second Resolution in this session.  This had the effect of helping to diffuse the erroneous claims that sexual orientation and gender identity is a global north issue.

AWID: What were some of the most significant compromises made to gather more support for the resolution?

DC: There were so many compromises in the process of actually negotiating the text that was tabled. It was a minimal call right from the beginning – essentially for a follow up Report to the one HRC report published in November 2011 entitled “Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity” and a report every two years thereafter.

The imperative was to have this report address root causes of the violence and discrimination worldwide based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The need for a report that looked at patriarchy and multiple and intersecting causes and oppressions was erased before the ink was even applied. The inclusion of such language, even if it was, in the end negotiated out of the text, was important to insert these ideas into the dialogue.

The already weak and watered down text was diluted even more in the negotiations. This was due in part to the Organization for the Islamic Conference (OIC) who insisted that the core group either scrap the resolution entirely, or replace any reference to sexual orientation and gender identity in the text with language from the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) to take account of the various forms of discrimination and violence based on race, sex, poverty etc. The OIC’s tactics along with an apparent lack of support from other members of the Council resulted in a really minimal text, the commitment to a Report in 2015 (but not regular reporting every two years), “to sharing good practices and ways to overcome violence and discrimination, in application of existing international human rights law and standards” on sexual orientation and gender identity[1].

From a feminist point of view, the loss was on language that could act as a credible bridge between pure and raw identity politics and a broader sexuality; and gender lens that includes intersectionality and the idea of gender expression, as opposed to just gender identity.

AWID: Where did pressure against the resolution come from and what arguments were used against the resolution? 

DC: The arguments were not that much different to those used when other issues of bodily autonomy are raised at the Council: That sexual orientation and gender identity is a polarizing and divisive issue and hence, dangerous to push ahead with without more dialogue and more time.  Not surprisingly, the issue of sovereignty was also raised – essentially that states cannot impose this issue on other states. There were assertions that the resolution violates ethical, cultural and religious values of states and their national laws. And of course there was resistance to the idea of a Report being prepared and tabled every two years.

The polarization at the Council roughly on global north/south lines definitely infuses dialogue on sexual orientation and gender identity – or resistance to such dialogue. Global south states have a position that global north states pay more attention and invest more systematically in civil and political rights rather than economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development. This fuelled arguments about whether to vote for the resolution. Here too, we understand that resistance by some global south states to the threats of or actual sanctions related to positions on sexual orientation and gender identity meant that some states considered voting no.

AWID: The resolution was passed with 25 in favour, 14 against, and 7 abstentions. The vote was expected to be much closer. What do you think accounted for this increase in support?

DC: There was massive advocacy and pressure on swing states and on states expected to vote against the resolution.  This came both from states supporting the resolution and from civil society, in country, in the capitals and in Geneva. An interesting dynamic also emerged which added positive pressure from New York where the General Assembly was simultaneously underway and some progressive positions were being taken on sexual and reproductive rights. Tactically, it was key to expose the contradictions to the ways in which some states articulated their positions on sexuality in the two spaces, the General Assembly and the HRC. 

We know that we are on the side of justice. Further, it is hard to overlook, ignore or justify violence against anyone, even if their choices and decisions about exercising their autonomy lean away from your own views of desire and pleasure, intimacy and gender, sexuality and power.

And of course we don’t know the whole story. What happened behind closed doors between states is always an unknown factor. Were there trade offs? What was traded for shifts in positions on the Resolution? Whatever the case, there were global south states which shifted from voting against the resolution to abstaining, and others shifted from abstentions to a yes vote.  The final vote reflected and affirmed an incremental approach where we build on what has gone before.

AWID: What will this resolution do to strengthen commitments of states to live up to their obligations and protect the human rights of all people without distinction?

DC: In our view, the Resolution will do nothing to strengthen commitments of states if the commitment is not already there. It really is us who will have to do the work to make this happen on the ground in countries – people on the frontlines. As always, the work has to be done by those who have been and continue to take the risks as they resist oppression, confront violence and hatred and fight, at risk of their own bodies and lives for change. And the solidarity of other players including states and donors who have different spheres of power and influence will be key in this process.

AWID: What substantive impact do you think this resolution will make in the lives of the people you work with in your organization?

DC: Mostly None.  In the first place, knowing the change process and what is takes to make happen the kind of shifts needed to impact substantively on the lives of ordinary people, it is clear that a resolution on its own cannot make a substantive impact. Some resolutions, by the nature of the action they call for, have more potential to contribute to change. An example is Resolution on Preventable Maternal Mortality and Morbidity and Human Rights passed in 2011 that enabled, amongst other things, guidelines to be drafted as a contribution to changes on policy, institutional and programmatic levels. But this resolution did not achieve this.

What it did was enable – or even force – an intensified dialogue on one of the many important sexuality and gender related human rights issues. This in itself is a crucial step towards transformation. If it is true that contestations are key moments of political repositioning of states; and crystallization of positions [for and against] are an important incremental step, then at some point this and similar Resolutions can and will contribute to substantive changes in the lives of people.

What the resolution also did was to give hope. Hope that the work we are all doing on bodily autonomy and intersectionality is not in vain. Hope that states are slowly beginning to see this issue as a human rights issue. This resolution is a small light at the end of the tunnel that our demands will be met – demands for erotic justice and the right to autonomy over our bodies and lives. And loves!!!

*Dawn would like to thank the following people for their contributions: Sonia Correa and Stuart Halford of the Sexual Rights Initiative

[1] For more information on negotiations at the UN please refer to : United Nations – Negotiating Sexual Rights and Sexual Orientation at the UN  pp 311, Françoise Girard    http://www.sxpolitics.org/frontlines/book/pdf/sexpolitics.pdf

                                                                                                                                                            SOGI Resolution Vote

 

THE UNHRC VOTES YES! FOR SOGI: African civil society celebrates the continued recognition of sexual orientation and gender identity at the United Nations Human Rights Council

VotingPattern

For Immediate release

30 September 2014

African Men for Sexual Health and Rights [AMSHeR], the Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL], and the Demand Accountability SA Campaign* recognises and celebrates the adoption of a resolution, led by Chile, Uruguay, Columbia and Brazil – on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” resolution [A/HRC/27/L27 Rev.1] –at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on 26th September 2014. 25 States, including South Africa, voted in favour of the resolution, 14 States voted against it, and 7 States abstained from voting. One State was absent during the vote. The resolution ‘requests that the High Commissioner to update the report  [A/HRC/19/41] with a view to sharing good practices and ways to overcome violence and discrimination, in application of existing international human rights law and standards, and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-ninth session’. This report will ensure that the issues are brought into the main plenary session of the Human Rights Council and that a formal dialogue is held on these issues. The need to sustain and strengthen dialogue on sexuality and gender related rights is key to advancing rights and so the report is a welcome product that will contribute to such dialogue

In 2011 South Africa, with co-sponsorship from Brazil and Norway, led a Resolution [17/19] on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity which was adopted at the Council in June 2011. Its adoption led to the first official United Nations report [A/HRC/19/41] titled Report of the HC – Study documenting discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights). This Resolution was voted for by 23 to 19 States, with three abstentions, indicating their recognition of sexual orientation and gender identity as a human rights issue and denouncing violence and discrimination on these grounds. .

More than three years after Resolution 17/19, the oppression of people of non-conforming sexual orientation and gender identity and expression has worsened all over world. In Africa, intolerance against people who engage in same sex relations, those who are gender non-conforming, intersex people and those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-diverse has manifested in the form of retrogressive legislation that seeks to limit the rights and freedoms of many African people. Such legislation has been introduced in Nigeria and Uganda and moves are underway in Gambia and Chad to do the same.

Phillipa Tucker of AIDS Accountability International asserted that states have an obligation to protect all rights for all and cannot allow violence and discrimination against anyone to be justified and excused.  Other activists slated the use of religion and tradition to deny all people the right to peace and safety. “We will not accept states imposing their own religious beliefs on others. We insist on the rights of everyone to freedom of belief and religion and at the same time will not sit back and watch states impose the religious beliefs on those who hold opposing beliefs”, according to  Ingrid Lynch from Triangle Project.

Kene Esom of African Men for Sexual Health and Rights stated that “The levels of violence and discrimination in Africa are of particular concern to our organisations and African states must fulfil their obligations to stop all forms of violence and this includes violence based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. In April this year, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights adopted the first ever Resolution focussed on sexual orientation and gender identity within the African human rights system calling on states to end the violence. This Resolution and the Resolution adopted today at the Human Rights Council all contribute to a shift in the culture of impunity when it comes to the human rights of people who are non-conforming in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity”.

The vote by African states included a yes vote from South Africa, four abstentions from Burkina Faso, Congo, Namibia and Sierra Leone; with Algeria, Botswana, Cote D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon and Kenya all voting against the Resolution.  In a not unexpected backlash, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), represented by Pakistan, as well as Bahrain, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Malaysia, Namibia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and the United Arab Emirates, proposed amendments to the Resolution, intended to weaken the provisions of the Resolution and to remove direct reference to sexual orientation and gender identity. Namibia withdrew their co-sponsorship of these troubling proposed amendments before they came to the vote. The amendments were all defeated.  “Collectively, the defeat of the proposed amendments, the growing number of abstentions since June 2011 and the explanation of the vote by Botswana are all seen as small steps forward. These shifts are understood to come out of strengthening behind the scenes and more public dialogue emerging from, as an example, the Universal Periodic Review [UPR] of all state as well as strong and effective campaigning by civil society in these countries and in intergovernmental spaces” was the view of Sally Shackleton from Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce [SWEAT]. “We must collectively now invest more heavily and responsibly in national level organising and building civil society capability to step up and sustain the work at the national level, even as we intensify our work within the international human rights system” was the position of Sally.

Activists in Africa now look forward to the South African government, through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation [DIRCO], hosting the long awaited seminar ‘Ending Violence based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression in Africa’. This Regional Seminar is a critical step in creating space for dialogue on rights related to sexual orientation and gender identity in the African region. South Africa must fulfil its commitment in this regard.

*Members of the Demand Accountability Campaign:

 

  1. AIDS Accountability International
  2. Access Chapter 2
  3. African Men for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
  4. African Sex Workers Association
  5. Coalition of African Lesbians
  6. Durban Gay and Lesbian Centre
  7. Forum for the Empowerment of Women
  8. Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action
  9. One in Nine Campaign
  10. People Opposing Women Abuse
  11. Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce
  12. Sonke Gender Justice
  13. South African National AIDS Council – Civil Society Forum
  14. Triangle Project

For comments please contact:

Dawn Cavanagh

Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL]

Email: dawn@cal.org.za Tel: +27 71 104 1718

 Kene Esom

African Men for Sexual Health & Rights [AMSHeR]

Email: kene@amsher.net Tel: +2711 242 6801

African Civil Societies Call For South Africa to Show Leadership and VOTE YES For SOGI Rights at the United Nations Human Rights Council

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The Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL], African Men for Sexual Health and Rights [AMSHeR], and organisations signed to the Demand Accountability Campaign* called on the South African Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Maite Nkoana to vote yes in the upcoming resolution on Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity [Res. A/HRC/27/L27 Rev.1] at the United Nation’s 27th Human Rights Council session. This is a follow up resolution to the 2011 Resolution [Res. A/HRC/17/19] which was led by South Africa and co-sponsored by Brazil.

Civil society and individuals from all over the world are calling on their governments to show support for this follow up resolution that seeks to continue recognizing the gross human rights violation that people of non-conforming gender identity and sexual orientation face.

As of 27th September, nearly 100 organisations and individuals had signed onto this letter in a show solidarity and support.

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MONDAY 22 to 27 SEPTEMBER 2014

Johannesburg, South Africa

The Minister

International Relations and Co-operation

Pretoria

South Africa

 ATTENTION: Minister Maite Nkoana

Dear Minister

 RE: The Human Rights Council 27TH SESSION, September 2014:

Resolution: Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity [A/HRC/27/L27]

On behalf of the undersigned organisations, we write to draw your urgent attention to Resolution A/HRC/27/L27 tabled at the Human Rights Council on Thursday 18 September by Chile, Uruguay, Colombia and Brazil and to urge and insist you act in keeping with your human rights obligations in this regard by voting YES to the Resolution in its current tabled version. The operational paragraphs call for a minimum of a follow up report to the Report of the High Commissioner OF November 2011 on Violence and Discrimination on the basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and for follow up reports every two years.

As you know, this is, more than three years later, a follow up to 17/19 led by South Africa, and is important as a way to keep dialogue at the Human Rights Council sustained and to ensure that the issue does not fall off the agenda of the Council. Here on the African continent, many of our fellow activists, colleagues and fellow human rights defenders view this Resolution as a way to draw the attention of states to an issue that forces many into an unnecessary and unjust confrontation with the law and criminalises sex between consenting adults with a wide range of consequences for our right to development.

We are disappointed that your Ministry has recently repeatedly failed to represent the position of South Africa on this issue with the same commitment and determination it did in 2011. This disappointment has been based on your repeated failure to keep your commitment and word on the issue of the Regional Seminar coupled with a refusal to respond to numerous requests for information on plans for the hosting of the Regional Seminar.  We still look forward to and to expect South Africa to continue principled leadership on this matter in a range of intergovernmental processes internationally and to demonstrate accountability to the principles of the Constitution as well as respect for the right to development framework which includes transparency, accountability and participation.

We remind you and call your attention to your obligation to promote the respect for the human rights of all people, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and to use the opportunity afforded by your own leadership at the Human Rights Council on this issue in the past to begin to confront violence and discrimination targeted at this part of the community.

Minister, we further call your attention to an oral amendment which is expected from the floor during the vote on this Resolution A/HRC/27/L27. Such a proposed amendment would call for the removal from 27/L27 all language on sexual orientation and gender identity and the replacement with language equal or roughly equal to “race, colour, sex, language, religion or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.  Our organisations are all committed to and passionate about and have a track record in local and international work in applying an analysis that includes multiple forms of discrimination and intersectional analyses. In 2013, we mobilised support for the 10 May Statement which asserted the need for any follow up resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity to use an intersectional and incremental lens. Our work as feminists and pan Africanists is based on such thought and standards.

At the same time, the proposed language will deny and attempt to erase and hide from the lived realities of people facing violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression who are targeted for violation, violence and discrimination. This is what such an amendment will attempt to do and will contribute to. South Africa cannot be party to such an amendment and indeed, should be at the forefront of reaching out to states to dissuade them from such a move. The Human Rights Council is about human rights. We expect and trust that our rights as African people with non-conforming sexualities and gender identities and expressions will not be negotiated away for political expediency at the Council.

Minister Maite Nkoana, we the undersigned now call upon on you to:

  1. Issue the appropriate directive for a vote in support of the Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression when it tabled later this week as it stands within the version tabled by the lead states
  2. Reach out to your colleagues who may be calling for the abovementioned amendments and to work to persuade them to desist from such a move and to issue a directive to the South African delegation in Geneva to vote against such an oral amendment from the floor at the vote which may seek to change the intention to show urgency to the need to protect rights related to sexual orientation and gender identity

We look forward to remaining in dialogue on this issue throughout the week and to a progressive vote on this Resolution. Our colleagues from the Sexual Rights Initiative are available for dialogue in Geneva all of this week.

Minister, we look forward also to your leadership on the Regional Seminar on Ending Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Africa as per your own announcement and commitment in March this year and the staff of your Department since June 2013. This Seminar will provide much needed dialogue on the continent to begin to stem the tide of violence and discrimination faced my millions of people on the continent based on their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. We will be popularising the ideas, analysis and policy imperatives emerging from the powerful speech by the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini at the general Assembly in New York last week [19 September].  We will continue to advocate to see these ideas reflected in South Africa’s domestic and international policy positions and work.

We continue to follow the proceedings at the Council very closely this week, together with our more than 80 member and partner organisations in more than 30 African states. We will also all be watching the proceedings online both in South Africa and in various fora in each sub-region on the continent. We will direct the media to this facility online also.

Thank you for your leadership in this important moment on rights related to sexuality and gender.

In solidarity and anticipation.

*The Demand Accountability Campaign

  1. AIDS Accountability International
  2. Access Chapter 2
  3. African Men for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
  4. African Sex Workers Association
  5. Coalition of African Lesbians
  6. Durban Gay and Lesbian Centre
  7. Forum for the Empowerment of Women
  8. Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action
  9. One in Nine Campaign
  10. Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce
  11. Sonke Gender Justice
  12. South African National AIDS Council – Civil Society Forum
  13. Triangle Project

Additional Endorsements

Individuals

  1. Suntosh Pillay, King Dinuzulu Hospital Complex, Durban, South African
  2. Estian Smit, Gender diverse activist, South Africa
  3. Umesh Bawa, Clinical Psychologist, University of the Western Cape
  4. Dr. Tracy Morison, PhD, Human and Social Development research unit, HSRC
  5. Dr. Elaine Salo, South Africa / USA
  6. Yvette Abrahams, Gender Equality Commissioner, SA
  7. Ivy Fungai Rutize, Human Rights Feminist Activist, Zimbabwe
  8. Mzikazi Nduna, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  9. Melanie Judge, South Africa
  10. Nicolette August, South Africa
  11. Sophia Lugilahe, Tanzania
  12. Beth Buchanan, South Africa
  13. Asanda Benya, WITS University, South Africa
  14. Chris Stander, South Africa

South African/Regional Organisations

  1. African Women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET), Pan-African
  2. AIDS Legal Network, South Africa
  3. Center for the Right to Health, Nigeria
  4. Centre for HealthCare and Economic Empowerment for Women and Youth (CHCEEWY), Nigeria
  5. Community And Family Aid Foundation, Ghana
  6. Deo Gloria Family Church, South Africa
  7. DISA Health Care, South Africa
  8. Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW)
  9. Free Gender (Funeka Soldaat), South Africa
  10. Geiheis Collective, South Africa
  11. Gay & Lesbian Network, PMB, South Africa
  12. Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), Zimbabwe
  13. Gender Dynamix, South Africa
  14. Gender Transformation Network, South Africa
  15. Good Hope Metropolitan Community Church, South Africa
  16. Health4Men, Anova Health Institute, South Africa
  17. HOPEM Network, Mozambique
  18. Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM), South Africa
  19. The Inner Circle, South Africa.
  20. Iranti-org, South Africa
  21. Kydesa Rainbow Community, Kenya
  22. LifeLine NW Rustenburg Centre, South Africa
  23. Matrix Support Group LGBTI, Lesotho
  24. The New Women’s Movement, South Africa
  25. Network of African People Living with HIV (NAPSAR+), Southern Africa Region
  26. The Networking HIV, AIDS Community of South Africa (NACOSA), South Africa
  27. The Nucleus Association Mavalane against Drugs and AIDS, Mozambique
  28. Out In Africa, Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, South Africa
  29. OUT LGBT Well-being, South Africa
  30. Partners in Sexual Health, South Africa
  31. PASSOP LGBTI Refugee Support and Advocacy Project, South Africa
  32. People Empowering People Africa, Cameroon
  33. People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), South Africa
  34. Positive Women’s Network, South Africa
  35. PsySSA – the Psychological Society of South Africa (Sexuality and Gender Division), South Africa
  36. Rainbow Identity Association, Botswana
  37. Rainbow WSU, South Africa
  38. SAFAIDS Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi and South Africa
  39. Section 27, South Africa
  40. Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), South Africa
  41. Sexual Rights Centre, Zimbabwe
  42. Simply Said and Done, South Africa
  43. South African Education and Environment Project (SAEP), South Africa
  44. South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) Men’s Sector, South Africa
  45. Southern African AIDS Trust, South Africa
  46. Soweto HIV/AIDS Counsellors Association/National LGBTI Health Campaign, South Africa
  47. The Centre for the Study of AIDS, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  48. Transgender and Intersex Africa, Pan-African
  49. Treatment Action Campaign, South Africa
  50. Voices of Women in Western Kenya, Kenya
  51. Wellness Foundation, South Africa
  52. Women’s Health and Equal Rights (WHER) Initiative, Nigeria
  53. The Women’s Leadership Centre, Namibia
  54. WISH Associates, South Africa
  55. Young Women’s Knowledge and Leadership Institute (YOWLI) Burundi
  56. Zambia Association for the prevention of HIV and Tuberculosis (ZAPHIT), Zambia

Global Organisations

  1. Association for Progressive Communications, International
  2. Association of Transgender People in the Philippines (ATP), Philippines
  3. Common Language, China
  4. CURE Foundation, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  5. David Kato Foundation, USA
  6. Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWNNET), Philippines
  7. Diverse Voices and Action for Equality, Fiji
  8. Gayten-LGBT, Center for Promotion of LGBTIQ Human Rights, Serbia
  9. Oneworld – Platform for Southeast Europe, Bosnia Herzegovina
  10. Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (Strap Kababaihan, Inc.), Philippines
  11. UltraVioletas Lesbian Feminist Collective, Argentina
  12. VIKALP WOMEN’S GROUP, India
  13. Women and Media Collective, Sri Lanka
  14. Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR), International

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pressure on South Africa to host talks to end persecution of gender non-conforming and trans Africans

MGArticle

 By Liesl Louw-Vaudran for the Mail & Guardian.

8 august 2014

Originally Published on: http://mg.co.za/article/2014-08-07-pressure-on-sa-to-host-talks-to-end-gay-persecution/

Rights groups are putting pressure on SA to hold an Africa-wide seminar on discrimination and violence that has been postponed several times.

The department of international relations and co-operation says it still plans to host an Africa-wide seminar on violence against people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, even though the meeting has been postponed several times since it was first mooted more than a year ago.

Altogether 38 African countries have laws that criminalise homosexuality and in Mauritania, Sudan and Nigeria it is punishable by death. The issue has lately become a political tool for some African heads of state, such as Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. Last week, the Ugandan Constitutional Court rejected a new anti-gay law that would have imposed even more stringent regulations against homosexuality than those already in place.

Rights groups across the continent now accuse South Africa of stalling on the crucial meeting to follow up on a United Nations report titled Discriminatory Laws and Practices and Acts of Violence Against Individuals Based on Their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

“It is essential for policymakers and gatekeepers to have a dialogue with civil society on this issue,” says Tendai Thondhlana, spokesperson for African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (Amsher), based in Johannesburg. “In some countries, governments say violence against sexual minorities doesn’t exist. It is up to us to show them the evidence.”

South Africa, together with Brazil and Norway, was instrumental in passing a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011 that led to the report on the issue.

Regional seminars were then held all over the world that fed into the International Conference on Human Rights and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Oslo in April 2013. But none were held in Africa.

No meeting

In March this year, South Africa’s minister of international relations and co-operation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, told the UN Human Rights Council that the meeting would be held before the end of June this year, but this has not happened.

The international relations and co-operation department’s spokesperson, Nelson Kgwete, responding to written questions from the Mail & Guardian, says: “South Africa is planning to hold the African regional seminar focusing on finding practical solutions for violence and discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The objective thereof will be to facilitate an open and constructive dialogue on the issue of discrimination and acts of violence against individuals … and generate greater understanding on the root causes of these challenges. It is key to note that the objective of the seminar is not to create new or special rights.”

Kgwete denies that South Africa is succumbing to pressure from other African countries where anti-homosexual laws are in place.

“South Africa remains a sovereign and democratic state, founded on values of, among others, human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms, nonracialism and nonsexism.

“South Africa conceived and initiated the idea of the regional seminar without pressure from any country, both inside and outside of the African continent,” says Kgwete.

Pepe Julien Onziema, programme director at Sexual Minorities Uganda, told the M&G telephonically that organisations on the continent understand that, in the current climate, there is a lot of pressure on South Africa in the UN Human Rights Council and in the African Union. South Africa also wants to play an important role in issues of trade and security on the continent, he said, but it needs to stick to its prior commitments.

“South Africa at this point needs to take a stand because it has for many years now had laws protecting sexual minorities and has led the process in the past,” he said.

Rights organisation Amsher, together with the Coalition for African Lesbians, said in a statement that, even if not all African states attend the planned seminar, it should go ahead: “The worsening hostility and increasing violence against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression demands accountability,” they said.

In April this year, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights – an organ of the African Union – passed a resolution on ending violence against Africans based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, which was seen as a step in the right direction by human rights groups.

 

 

 

 

AFRICAN CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS DEMAND A DATE FOR THE REGIONAL SEMINAR ON ENDING VIOLENCE BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

13 June 2014

Johannesburg – South Africa

African civil society organisations have demanded that Honourable Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of   International Relations and Cooperation in South Africa, sets a date for the Regional Seminar on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression in Africa. This follows repeated communication with Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, to follow through on the commitment the Government of South Africa made to convene this Seminar at which African States, National Human Rights Institutions and civil society organisations can dialogue on the issue of violence and discriminatory laws and practices targeting individuals based on their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The continued delays in convening this seminar raises questions about South Africa’s commitment to leadership on ending violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We can no longer ignore this on-going crisis in South Africa and the rest of the continent. African states must begin a dialogue on ways to bring this modern expression of inhumanity to an end.” Ingrid Lynch of The Love, Not Hate Campaign said.

In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed Resolution 17/19 on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity sponsored by South Africa and Brazil. The Resolution expressed ‘grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.’ It also mandated the High Commissioner for Human Rights to commission a study documenting discriminatory law and practices and violence committed against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and how international human rights law may be used to end violence and other related human rights violations. Following the publication of the Report of this study, regional dialogues have been held in other regions of the world, except Africa, to discuss the findings of the study and receive recommendations on follow up processes. Despite shaping this Regional process of consultation and later committing to host the Regional Seminar, the Government of South Africa has refused to follow through with this commitment.

According to Dawn Cavanagh, of the Coalition of African Lesbians, “South Africa’s seemingly deliberate delay in honouring its commitment to host the Regional Seminar means that ordinary Africans affected by this kind of violence and discrimination are denied the important opportunity to have their realities discussed and addressed by their States, who have the primary obligation of protecting its citizens from violence and human rights violations.”

“As the High Commissioner’s Report indicated, violence and human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity is occurring in all regions of the world. The Regional Seminars are an important step to forging an international response to this crisis which has real costs in human lives, including in Africa. South Africa’s failure to convene the African Regional Seminar is holding up a process that could potentially ensure a comprehensive, context-sensitive international response to ending violence and human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression”, says Kene Esom, of the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights.

In October 2013, the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) and the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) published the report Violence Based on Real or Perceived Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Africa, which detailed types and cases of violence and other human rights targeting individuals based on the real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity across Africa.

ENDS

For more information contact:

  1. African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR): 00 27 11 482 4630 or email Kene Esom at kene@amsher.net
  2. Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL): 00 27 11 403 0004/7 or email Fikile Vilakazi at  fikile@cal.org.za
  3. Love Not Hate Campaign: 00 27 12 430 3272 or email Ingrid Lynch at advocacy@triangle.org.za

African Civil Society Organisations Commend the African Commission’s Resolution Condemning Violence and Other Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

 

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African civil society organisations and human rights defenders working to advance human and peoples’ rights in Africa welcome the adoption of a ‘Resolution on .’ The Resolution was adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in the most recent session held in Luanda, Angola, May 2014.

This landmark Resolution is the strongest document to date emerging from the African Union’s human rights body that recognises the need for the protection of the human rights of people who are non-conforming in terms of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The Resolution acknowledges that violence and human rights violations against individuals based on their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity breaches the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The resolution calls on “State parties to ensure that human rights defenders are able to work in an environment free from stigma, reprisals or criminal prosecution as a result of their human rights protection activities.”  It further urges States to end impunity for acts of violence and abuse, by enacting appropriate laws prohibiting and punishing all forms of violence including those targeting persons on the basis of their identities; by ensuring proper investigation and diligent prosecution of the perpetrators; and by establishing judicial procedures responsive to the needs of victims.

According to Dawn Cavanagh of the Coalition of African Lesbians, “This Resolution is important because by unequivocally condemning human rights violations and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity and urging diligent prosecution of perpetrators and access to justice for victims, the African Commission has made it clear that these violations, which have become commonplace in many African countries, cannot and should not be tolerated. The African Commission, through this Resolution has reminded States of their human rights obligations to protect all people in Africa from human rights abuses and violence. It is, further, an important step towards the right to autonomy as African people, so that we are able to make decisions about our own bodies and lives”

The Resolution comes at a time when a number of countries are passing or considering legislation targeted at persons who are or perceived to be non-conforming in terms of their sexual orientation and gender identity. It comes also in the wake of unprecedented reports of heightened mob violence, murder, rape, assault, arbitrary arrests and detention. Last October, a report, Violence Based on Real or Perceived Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Africa published by the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights [AMSHeR] and the Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL] was launched at the NGO Forum of the 54th Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul, The Gambia. The report documents the incidents of violence perpetrated against those who are non-conforming in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression across the continent by both state and non-state actors, emphasising their entitlement to the same protection under the law as other people.

“The Commission in its mandate to promote and protect the human rights of all, has, by passing this resolution, heard the strong call of those who are subjected to violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression across Africa” said Joel Gustave Nana, Executive Director of AMSHeR.  “They bear the brunt of prejudice and marginalisation, and are often unable to realise their rights as guaranteed by their national constitutions, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and international treaties”, he asserted.

African civil society organisations, activists and human rights defenders call on all African States to immediately take action to end this violence and wide-ranging human rights violations by aligning legislation, policies and institutional frameworks with the standards set, through this Resolution, by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. We further urge the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the human rights body of the African Union to monitor and ensure States’ compliance with this resolution and the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

This press release is available in French here.

For further enquiries contact -

 1. Kene C. Esom,

+2711 242 6801, kene@amsher.net

2. Fadzai Muparutsa

+2711 403 0004, fadzai@cal.org.za

 

Issued by African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) and Heartland Alliance’s Global Initiative for Sexuality and Human Rights (HA-GISHR).