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

OHCHR-logo-White-450x300

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.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

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

                        low res - Banner Final                                  

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

 

cropped-logo_august_2.jpglogo-new-AMSHER

heartland_alliance_logo

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).

 

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

au-logo

 

A coalition of organisations and human rights defenders working to advance human and peoples’ rights welcomes the adoption of a 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‘ by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at its 55th session held in Luanda, Angola, April 2014.

We recall the preamble to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights where member states took into consideration the virtues of Africa’s historical traditions and the values of African civilisation and stated that these should inspire and characterise the member states’ reflection on the concept of human and peoples’ rights. We believe that the resolution constitutes an affirmation and a clear demonstration of these values.

We applaud the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, the premiere body mandated in the African Charter with the task of the protection and promotion of human rights in Africa, for its leadership and recognition of the entitlement to these rights by every African regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or any other status. In the African Charter, the Commission is entrusted with the responsibility to set human rights standards that all African Union member states should observe. The Commission does not exist to reflect the prejudices of member states, but exists to hold states accountable when they fail to observe the required human rights standards. This resolution comes at a time when a number of countries are adopting or considering legislation targeted at persons perceived to be or actually different and non-conforming in relation to gender, gender identity and expression and sexual orientation. It is thus extremely important that the Commission, in its appreciation of the evolving situation of human rights issues in the continent, chose to focus its attention on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

We celebrate the Resolution that decisively places all human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression under the jurisdiction of the African Commission as mandated by the African Charter. Following similar initiatives in other regional and international systems of protection of human rights to address the global problem of homophobia and transphobia, the Resolution provides a legal basis for protection to all those who are suffering and living under the threat of violence because of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. We see this resolution as an honour to the memories of all those who have lost their lives to violence because they were perceived to be different on these grounds. This Resolution is the first step towards affirming the equality and dignity of all African people who have been targeted and continue to be treated as second-class citizens because of their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

We call on all those committed to and working to achieve for all in Africa the right to autonomy over our bodies and lives and for dignity, non-discrimination and equality for all, to work together towards a continent that is free and safe from violence and to ensuring that the substance of the Resolution is implemented by all states parties to the African Charter.

We acknowledge the activists, human rights defenders, groups and institutions that have worked tirelessly and with commitment at the African Commission, as well as those who supported this work through various means over the past eight years (below the list of groups that between 2006 and 2014 have engaged at some point in the process). Our shared goal to ensure that the African Commission recognises that human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression are justiciable under the African Charter is now being realised. Whilst there were numerous doubts and frustrations we remained steadfast in our belief and trust that the African Charter is a living document that confers human and peoples’ rights to all Africans regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. The Commission has now confirmed this by passing this historical resolution.

National NGOS: Afrique Arc-en-Ciel, Togo, AIDS ACODEV; Aides Senegal; Alternatives-Cameroun; ARCAD SIDA, Mali; Arc en Ciel Plus; Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria; Concerned Women’s Initiative; East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project [EHAHRDP]; Dignity Association; Freedom and Roam Uganda; Forum for the Empowerment of Women; Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya; Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum; Human Rights Institute of Southern Africa; HOCA; Icebreakers Uganda; Initiative for the Advancement of Humanity; International Centre for the Advancement of the Rights to Health; Lambda Mozambique; LeGaBiBo; Matrix (Swaziland); Mouvement pour les Libertés Individuelles (MOLI); My Rights; National gay and lesbian human rights commission; PEMA-KENYA; People Opposing Women Abuse; Queer African Youth Networking; Queer Alliance; Rainbow Candle Light; Rainbow Identity Association; Sexual Minorities Uganda; The Initiative for Equal Rights; SIPD; Stay Awake Network Activities; Spectrum Initiatives Uganda; Stop AIDS; Together for Women’s Rights; Women’s Health and Equal Rights; Young Women’s Initiative; Zanzibar Youth Empowerment Activities

Regional NGOs: African Men for Sexual Health and Rights; AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa; Coalition of African Lesbians; Rencontre Africaine pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDO); Human Rights Defenders Network in Central Africa (REDHAC)

International NGOs: Amnesty International, Heartland Alliance (GISHR) Human Rights Watch; International Centre for the Protection of Human Rights (INTERIGHTS), International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and Global Rights

Please read this statement in  French here.

You can also read the Resolution 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 (GISHR)

Statement from the Coalition of African Lesbians on May 17: Gender non-conforming, trans-identifying and non-heteronormative Africans unite to bring Africa back.

courtesy of

 

This year’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) finds us at a perilous time on our continent. This year in its infancy has seen the passing of two restrictive, intolerant and oppressive legislations that target the rights and freedoms of African women and men that don’t conform to heterosexist constructions of sexuality, gender and expression. The Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act (2014) signed into law on January 7 in Nigeria, and the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act (2014) signed into law on 24 February have set a precedent for increased bigotry towards people with different sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. In these two countries alone, trans-identifying and queer individuals, as well as human rights defenders that advocate for the rights of all people, have borne the brunt of merciless attacks on their personhood, their safety and their property. States tasked with protecting and safeguarding the rights of vulnerable citizens have stood by and watched while women and men live in fear and have offered no recourse for lesbian, bisexual, trans, gay and intersex people who face danger daily.

State oppressions continue to spread, with many African countries threatening, and taking steps to introduce and stiffen not only homophobic and transphobic legislation, but also other rights and freedoms that state constitutions and international agreements guarantee. Civil society spaces for activism and expression are shrinking, with our governments limiting our freedoms to assemble, to protest, to run and operate Non-Governmental Organisations and censoring the media. Nine political bloggers who are part of the Zone 9 collective were arrested in Ethiopia in late April. The bloggers are accused of ‘working with foreign human rights activists’ and ‘using social media to destabilize the country’. If prosecuted under Ethiopia’s controversial Anti-Terrorism Law, they could face the death penalty. This is cause for alarm on the continent, where the media plays a big role in exposing government misdoings and gives citizens a voice to challenge the status quo.

There is a crisis of safety and security in the Central African Republic (CAR) which is embroiled in a civil war that has been raging on since December 2012. South Sudan also finds itself in an ethnic war that has seen over 1000 South Sudanese people, both military and civilian, killed since December 2013. For months now, women, children and men in these countries have known no peace or safety, as their governments and military uprisings fight for power and access to limited resources, amidst rising frustrations over poor governance, ethnic tensions, and failing economic structures that leave majority Africans poor and perpetually disadvantaged. Kenya has also seen a rise in militant acts of terrorism, with several bombs and grenades in crowded places being detonated around the country, and the rampant shooting of Kenyans gathered at public social spaces. This has led to a general state of unease, has increased xenophobia in the country and has encouraged the government to use extreme police force and increase police presence in the country. The Kenyan government, in its attempt to crack down on ‘terrorists’ is tightening people’s abilities to move and encouraging that all Kenyans ‘spy on’ and report each other of any suspected ‘terrorist acts’  in what they call the Nyumba Kumi (Ten House) initiative. In March 2014 Aden Duale, a member of parliament in Kenya likened homosexuality to an ill as bad as terrorism.

More recently is the abduction of almost 300 school girls from a school in Chiboke, Nigeria by Boko Haram militants. This gross human rights violation, while horrendous is nothing new to the continent. The political unrest and failed state security structures have led to an increase of human trafficking across the continent-with the highest figures coming from West Africa, and Nigeria in particular. Most of the people trafficked out of the continent and sold into sexual slavery are women and children. The impunity with which the Boko Haram militants declared their actions, the suspicious way in which the Nigerian government has handled the crisis, and America’s offer for military intervention, are indications that there are bigger, far more sinister issues underlying this mass abduction of girls. This violation also speaks directly to the issue of bodily autonomy and agency of citizens, which includes children. Inhabiting female bodies makes girl children vulnerable in patriarchal structures of governance that devalue female bodies, and use women and girls’ lives as weapons of war and political bargaining chips. The issue of bodily autonomy is one that the Coalition of African Lesbians has been advocating for and is shifting conversations in various spaces. The Coalition of African Lesbians is critically aware that this issue manifests in multiple ways and across all national, cultural, religious, sexuality and economic structures in Africa-and needs to be made a presently urgent issue for discussion with our governments.

We cannot honour this day without considering the various human rights issues that we face, as individual people or States-but also our collective struggles as a continent. We are a continent at war with ourselves, and the time to act, to raise our voices and to initiate change is now. Now more than ever, we need to give cognisance to the state of affairs in Africa, whether they directly speak to issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or not. These struggles are all our struggles, because we know that an injustice to one, is an injustice to all. While the global theme for this day is ‘Freedom of Expression’, we recognise that we cannot freely express ourselves as Africans, let alone as queer Africans. Deep change needs to happen on political, socio-cultural, religious and spiritual levels to allow us demand the right to express ourselves freely, in countries and communities that will honour this right and that will allow us to do this safely.

As we commemorate IDAHOT this year, we also need to celebrate the brave women and men that have stood in the face of injustice and not wavered. We salute the passion of human rights defenders, of communities, organisations and individuals that have shown solidarity with fellow Africans targeted for abuse and injury. We recognise the importance of considering the variety of issues that intersect and overlap with the targeted mistreatment of people of non-normative sexuality, gender identity and expression. We celebrate small victories, and pay homage to those that we have lost to the fight for justice and freedom for all African people. Although the continent is in a state of strife, we have seen tremendous acts of courage across the continent. From the activists in Uganda that filed a petition against the Anti-Homosexuality Act, to the protestors in Kenya that faced repeated police brutality while marching against State sanctioned economic reform that would leave the poor poorer and the rich richer. We continue to show resilience, resistance and courage in the face of increased oppression. This needs to be celebrated on this day.

On this day we also say, enough is enough, this is not the Africa we want, and we call for Africa to arise and unite and bring back Africa. The Coalition of African Lesbians stands behind the Mayibye iAfrica Statement, and calls for the return of Africa and a call for self-determination, an embracing of diversity and for justice. We encourage all our members, our allies, our friends and fellow civil society to sign onto the Mayibuye statement, and show unity of purpose and action in calling for change and the renaissance of Africa.

We wish all our members a day of peaceful remembrance and reflection, as well as a day of celebration and thanks-giving.

In strength and solidarity,

CAL Secretariat

17th May, 2014

 

CAL Sexuality and Gender Institute and Security and Wellbeing Workshop: 7-12 April, 2014

Sexuality and gender

In her opening remarks, Fikile Vilakazi said that as activists working on sexuality and gender issues of gender non-conforming and trans-identifying people, we need to understand our personal relationships to politics and to the movement.

She said this at the first day of the Southern Africa Sexuality and Gender Institute being held by the Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL] in Johannesburg, South Africa. From 7 to 12 April, activists from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho and Botswana will be meeting to engage in critical discourses around sexuality and gender, power, privilege and patriarchy. The six day Institute, through a critical feminist analysis, aims to raise conscious awareness of how these issues affect the work that we do and the influence they have over the contexts in which we work. The ensuing Security and Wellbeing Workshop from 10 to 12 April will work with participants to develop organizational and individual plans around security and wellbeing. Issues of safety, security and wellbeing are increasingly becoming central to the work that sexuality and gender activists do, with more hostile contexts for our work appreaing across the continent.

The Sexuality and Gender Institute is a follow up activity included in the ‘More Than Campaign’ initiative which was developed by Southern Africa members and partners of the Coalition of African Lesbians in August 2013. CAL member organizations expressed the need for a stronger conceptual framework on sexuality and gender in order to develop a feminist analysis and to frame coherent arguments on social justice issues related to sexuality and gender.

CAL will document the issues arising from this Institute on our Blog- www.caladvocacyblog.wordpress.com  as well as on social media on our Facebookwww.facebook.com/CoalitionCAL   and on Twitter at @caladvocacy or www.twitter.com/CALAdvocacy. Please follow us there to participate in arising conversations and discussions.

We anticipate that it will be a fruitful and engaing six days of unpacking, learning, unlearning and relearning how patriarchy, power and priviledge present and position themselves in our personal and public lives.

Press Release on the implications of the Anti-Homosexuality Act on the work of Human Rights Defenders in the Republic of Uganda

au-logo

The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Commissioner Reine Alapini-Gansou, received information that on 24 February 2014, “The Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014” was promulgated in the Republic of Uganda.

The Special Rapporteur notes that some of the provisions of the Act, in particular Section 13, prohibit, on penalty of imprisonment, the promotion of homosexuality and provide that the certificate of registration of any association or international organization which violates the Act shall be cancelled.

Such a law is likely to endanger the life and safety of persons alleged to belong to sexual minorities, as well as human rights defenders working on this issue, since it undermines their activities and freedom of expression, association and assembly, all of which are rights guaranteed by the Ugandan Constitution, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in particular Articles 2, 9, 10 and 11.

The Special Rapporteur is deeply concerned by the cases of intimidation and threats against some persons considered as Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgendered (LGBT) following the promulgation of the law. She further notes that some newspapers are already publishing the names and photographs of individuals considered as homosexuals, a situation which further increases the feeling of insecurity among the persons concerned.

The Special Rapporteur regrets the promulgation of the law whose consequences seriously undermine the work of human rights defenders and endanger the safety of sexual minorities who are already vulnerable as a result of social prejudice. She strongly condemns any interference in the privacy of these individuals as well as acts of violence and harassment they are subjected to.

The Special Rapporteur urges the Ugandan authorities to take the necessary measures to abrogate or amend the law.

She reminds the Ugandan Government of its international obligations, including those under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

She calls on the Ugandan Government to take the necessary steps for the effective protection of all persons against discrimination and violence, regardless of their sexual orientation, and to maintain an atmosphere of tolerance towards sexual minorities in the country.

The Special Rapporteur further calls on the Ugandan authorities to ensure that human rights defenders work in an enabling environment that is free of stigma, reprisals or criminal prosecution as a result of their human rights protection activities, including the rights of sexual minorities.

By the same token, she encourages the Ugandan political authorities to continue dialogue on this sensitive issue of homosexuality in Africa.

The Special Rapporteur urges the Ugandan Government to spare no effort to ensure the security and physical integrity of all human rights defenders in Uganda.

Banjul, 10 March 2014