Seventy-five countries around the world criminalize LGBTI people, of which 33 are in Africa (including island nations.) Of the 7 countries that impose the death penalty, 4 in Africa.
In these countries, the criminal codes and anti-gay rhetoric gives license to widespread persecution and is currently is at an all time high. While the draconian Colonial penal codes remain in effect, politicians, lawmakers, and religious leaders are calling for harsher punitive measures through more onerous legislation. This milieu is ripe for so called “mob justice”, public outings, evictions, firings, expulsions, banishment, blackmail, extortion, arrests, torture, assault, and even killings.
As a result, many members of Africa’s LGBTI community are often forced into hiding and in extreme cases, into exile, often seeking paths as asylum seekers or refugees.
The African Human Rights Coalition (AHRC) works with LGBTI communities and individuals in and from African countries seeking to claim and defend their human rights, with advocacy, resources and direct services:
To combat homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia, as well as related individual case advocacy, forming coalition alliances locally, on the continent, and abroad;
To provide fully comprehensive and ad hoc case management services for LGBTI individuals, asylum seekers and refugees, to include humanitarian assistance, referrals and resources;
To advocate with key populations and health impact of 'rights at risk', and related issues
Our ultimate goal is to partner for change, in the hope Africa can return to its pre-Colonial time of acceptance of sexuality, so Africa's environment for LGBTI people advances the pursuit of freedom and happiness.
We provide ad hoc advocacy and humanitarian services to LGBTQI people who have been criminalized in several African countries and are compelled by persecutory threat and violence to seek safe shelter and/or exile.
LGBTQI People in Africa are in dire need of:
Safe shelter, food, medical assistance and related funding
Guidance about exile options in cases where such is the only option for safety and survival
Improved conditions and Refugee protection in hostile host countries
Asylum services such as living and legal resources, to include trauma counseling, housing, work, law and policy reform
LGBTQI refugees in UNHCR system - management for resettlement cases, communications, advocacy
We provide consulting, advocacy and promotion of awareness on the situation for LGBTQI people in several African countries, to include Angola, Burundi, Ethiopia, Cameroon, DRC, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Melanie Nathan, Executive Director is a renowned South African Human Rights Attorney and LGBTQI equality advocate who immigrated to the United States during the Apartheid era. She is a country conditions expert on homophobia in Africa, providing expert testimony in the U.S and global courts for LGBTQI asylum seekers. She speaks around the world on related issues.
WHO WE ARE-
Marc Hanuman Cohen, Director of Humanitarian Programs Marc is engaged in directing humanitarian alliances and protection funding. Marc brings his many years of front line advocacy in the fight to preserve the quality of life for those living with HIV/AIDS, substance abuse & club drug interventions, his Global focus on LGBTI human rights advocacy, spearheading & supporting HIV & LGBT+ Programs with a focus on prevention, treatment access & human rights violations in Canada, US, Ghana & Uganda. In 1988 Marc began serving on the Board of Directors of University of Miami’s Community Alliance Against AIDS. In 1993, he Co-founded the Community AIDS Program on Miami Beach, serving as the Foundation's VP from 1993-97; then serving as President from 1997-2007.
African HRC consists of a coalition of individuals, case managers, service providers, organizations, and African led ambassadors based all around the world.
AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COALITION
MELANIE NATHAN- EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR.
(Melanie Nathan, Executive Director of African HRC & United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon)
Melanie Nathan, BA LL B practiced law in South Africa before immigrating to the U.S.A. in 1985. Melanie is an acclaimed equality and human rights advocate, a conflict resolution specialist and renowned speaker on issues impacting LGBTQI communities in the U.S. and African countries.
In 2009 she was the lead advocate in the successful introduction of a rare private bill into Congress by Senator Feinstein, preventing the imminent deportation of a lesbian mother. She has provided testimony to the US. Senate Judiciary Committee and the California State Assembly and Senate.
She is also known for her advocacy work and writing on the issue of so called “corrective rape” in South Africa, and was a co-leading spokesperson in the formation of a Parliamentary and Civil Society Task Team to combat violence against lesbians and hate crimes. She also is a Country Conditions expert on the situation for LGBTQI people in several African countries, providing reports for asylum applications and court cases around the world.
In 2014 Melanie was honored for her global advocacy work by San Francisco Pride as community Grand Marshal for SF Pride 2014. She was also Grand Marshal for Cape Town Pride in 2011. She has been a speaker for Women's March, Bay Area and served on panels around the globe. Melanie is the 2016 recipient of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award, Marin County HRC.
She served as a Marin Human Rights Commissioner, Youth Court Judge, VP Board of Fair Housing Marin, Review Board of San Anselmo and as an elected Vice President on the Board of San Francisco Pride. More on her advocacy blog at www.oblogdee.blog/about
Davis Mac-Iyalla is a Nigerian human rights defender and founder of Changing Attitudes Nigeria working for the affirmation and inclusion of LGBT people within the church and wider society. He is a well-known LGBT rights activist, researcher and author and is often asked to speak on the plight of LGBT People/Christians in West Africa.
Chalwe Mwansa is a Bachelor of Law (LLB), a Mandela Washington Fellow 2014 and renowned Zambian human rights defender. Chalwe has served as a Advocacy Officer at FRIENDS OF RAINKA SECRETARIAT, Lusaka, Zambia. He is a researcher and writer and has served several human rights fellowships in the United States of America.
Dr. Juliet A. Schiller is a researcher, published author, and assistant professor of education. Dr. Schiller has a passion for education and equity issues and disenfranchised youth, particularly new immigrants and refugees as they relocate into urban communities. Her research and scholarship in Human Rights Education (HRE) has been recognized as forward-thinking and internationally-focused as schools prepare students for a global future.
Karen Markowitz, M.Ed., brings more than 25 years of experience as an educator and administrator to her role as Program Administrator, providing administrative and operational support to African HRC. She earned her Master’s Degree in Education at Sonoma State University where she also served as the first professional Coordinator of the SSU Women’s Resource Center and established the Women’s Peer Leadership project.
Carmen Martinez, Spain, is a human rights activist who holds a Bachelor of Law with a Masters in Global Studies and Human Rights. She has devoted much of her high school and college years to volunteering with non-profit organizations dedicated to the rights and welfare of immigrants and local communities. She brings her global perspective, educational research expertise and volunteer experience to our committee.
Hannah Ponder, a NYU Tisch film graduate, is an accomplished and creative photographer and videographer, providing volunteer film and photography services as well social media advisory services to African Human Rights Coalition. Hannah served an internship with International Womens Soccer team as videographer and The Tibetan Foundation.
ADVISORY AND WORKING COMMITTEE
Sam Deetz, of blessed memory
THE D.R.C. (CONGO)
See African HRC work featured in Award winning documentary UNSETTLED at
African HRC ties together agencies, organizations, individuals, and media from around the world to provide advocacy and direct relief to persecuted LGBTI people in Africa, including asylum seekers and refugees.
African HRC works with many partners in Africa, to directly link African LGBTI communities and individuals in crisis to support services, both in Africa and abroad. We form ad hoc coalitions, catered to specific advocacy situations and individual cases, as needed.
We maintain and value the privacy of organizations, which are unable to operate openly due to government criminalization.
We support and uphold the value of African LGBTI organizations and individual activists working around the world, through programs that directly connect organizations and individuals abroad to organizations and individual partners operating within Africa.