Africa: IGLHRC's Work at the African Commission

IGLHRC continues to provide technical and logistical assistance to African LGBT activists working at the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), the human rights body of the African Union. IGLHRC staff members Joel Nana and Cary Alan Johnson attended the 41st session of the Commission, held in Accra, Ghana in May 2007.

For the last three sessions, IGLHRC has funded and facilitated the participation of more than 30 LGBT and sexual rights activists from throughout Africa at the Commission sessions. In Accra, IGLHRC sponsored the participation of Reverend Rowland Jide Macaulay from House of Rainbow, the Nigerian affiliate of Metropolitan Community Churches. Reverend Jide made a spirited and passionate plea to the Commission, asking that they express concern to f Nigeria government regarding the Same-sex Marriage Prohibition Act currently being debated in the Nigerian parliament (you can read the full text of his speech here.) Coalition of African Lesbian Executive Director Fikile Vilakazi also attended the session and was able to arrange a meeting for the LGBT delegation, which included representatives from the International Commission of Jurists and People Opposed to Women's Abuse (POWA) in South Africa, with Commission Pansy Taklula who has been one of the main champions of sexual rights at the Commission. Another key success at the most recent session was the inclusion of language calling for the protection of African LGBT human rights defenders in a resolution passed by representatives f human rights NGOs from throughout the continent.

LGBT concerns were formally introduced at the Commission at the 39th Ordinary Session, only one year ago. of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul, Gambia, African same-gender loving people have officially and openly voiced their concerns to the African Union (AU), the international organization of African governments. Twenty sexual rights activists—mostly African LGBT leaders and organizers—trained each other and developed skills for promoting sexual rights and defending LGBT people at the African regional level. Important links were made with mainstream human rights NGOs, leaders, scholars, and jurists—at the Africa regional level. IGLHRC returned to the Commission in November, and submitted a shadow report with Sexual Minorities of Uganda, which was used by the Commissioners to explore Uganda’s human rights record. These very successful meetings represent the start of a longer-term project to build support through the region on LGBT rights in order to address the growing backlash. IGLHRC will continue to coordinate further regional meetings, develop relationships with supportive NGOs, and build a Commission-specific strategy for opening regional dialogue.

Over the next year, IGLHRC will focus its attention on facilitating input into a paper on sexual orientation that the Commission Secretariat is drafting, and working with local and national African LGBT groups to develop shadow reports in response to the periodic state reports, which overwhelmingly fail to address LGBT issues. IGLHRC will also increase its regular inter-sessional communication with Commissioners, to keep them apprised of specific human rights abuses against sexual minorities and increase their understanding of the scope of the problem in Africa.