A Survey of Laws Impacting the Human Rights of LGBT Person in Selected Southern African Countries

OutRight Action International wishes to acknowledge with thanks the invaluable contributions to the report provided on a pro bono basis by the international law firms of Milbank and Webber Wentzel, with the support of the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice, and the African Affairs Committee, of the New York Bar Association.


This report seeks to outline the current state of legal protection for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (“LGBT”) persons in southern Africa by examining relevant current legislation in each of South Africa, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe and surveying the enforcement activities with regard to said legislation and communal attitudes toward LGBT individuals. By combining the individual case studies and providing a like-for-like comparison, this report seeks to identify how the neighboring states have influenced each other, both legislatively and with regard to popular attitudes, and to ascertain specific areas in which any individual country has made particularly progressive strides, thereby isolating the factors which have precipitated such progress.

This report consists of the following sections: (i) an executive summary, (ii) case studies for each of South Africa, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, (iii) a brief analysis of the international and regional treaties and protocols that may impact the human rights of LGBT persons to which any of the above countries is a party and (iv) a conclusion summarizing the results of the preceding analysis. Each case study is composed of a brief background section, a discussion of constitutional anti-discrimination provisions and a summary of national legislation impacting LGBT persons vis-à-vis the human rights to (i) privacy, (ii) establishing a family, (iii) adoption, (iv) access to employment, healthcare and housing, (v) treatment for and non-discrimination due to HIV/AIDS, (vi) expression and assembly, (vii) immigration and (viii) military service.

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