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Decriminalizing SOGIESC the African Way

In an academic article* it is noted via the Abstract: "The vulnerability of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in Africa to public health and other risks is heightened by their exclusion from socio-economic opportunities and services. We analyzed existing regional-level legal and policy instruments and treaties for the opportunities they offer to tackle the exclusion of LGBT persons in Africa. We identified seven key living legal and policy instruments, formulated and adopted between 1981 and 2018, by the African Union (AU) or its precursor, the Organization of African Unity."

THIS is a platform entry into the world of decriminalization:

"These treaties and instruments do not only highlight the region' s challenges related to inclusion, most of them are binding and enforceable, and all enshrine the responsibility of AU member-states to safeguard and ensure the inclusion and protection of citizens, their gender or sexual orientation notwithstanding.

The instruments set forth strong and ambitious agendas of inclusion and recognize and affirm the rights of the region's citizens to sexual and reproductive health (SRH), equality, freedom and opportunities, regardless of their sexual orientation. Their language is generally universalist and their rejection of discrimination, criminalization, and denial of socio-economic opportunities and services to the region’ s sexual minorities is forthright. However, the instruments do not explicitly mention LGBT persons and lack clear and effective mechanisms for answerability among member-states. Accountability and commitment among member-states towards these instruments and policies will improve national legal and policy environments and propel forward the agenda of LGBT inclusion, SRH and wellbeing in the region."

This a valid thesis. Given that there are these instruments, as well as country constitutions, which mostly can be interpreted as fully inclusive, there is a foundation to build upon, for a unified concerted effort for the best of Africa to come forward, to meet and strategize, to forge a path to end the criminalization of human sexuality, gender identity and sexual characteristics in an African way. The West must butt out, stand by, and be led - by Africa.

This cannot be an 'act-up' or 'threatening withdrawal of AID' or 'boycott' led endeavor. This must be led by Africa itself. Perhaps South Africa, Botswana, and Angola are good examples of what can occur in Africa, and should helm these endeavors.

Let us start by not calling Africans homophobic, in slur-like fashion, but by working toward understanding, looking at history, taking responsibility for Colonialism and where it continues to manifest,. Let us start by building coalitions, friendships, language, tone ... let us start with a meeting of minds to understand, strategize and implement...

If anyone is interested in joining this effort, African Human Rights Coalition is forming a leadership council of human rights defenders and community on the Continent and in the Diaspora. Concept notes are being drafted, as we speak and teams are building. If you are interested - send us an email....


Chimaraoke Izugbara, Seun Bakare, Meroji Sebany, Boniface Ushie,Frederick Wekesah & Joan Njagi (2020) Regional legal and policy instruments for addressingLGBT exclusion in Africa, Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, 28:1, 1698905, DOI:10.1080/26410397.2019.1698905 - To link to this article:

Graphics: Dean Stride, an AHRC Ambassador.


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