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PAI Conference, a Turning Point and Catalyst for Change






Matuba Mahlatjie
Published Date

In his welcoming message to a pre-conference panel discussion, Nate Brown, the executive director of Pan Africa ILGA (PAI), emphasized the importance of collective activism, solidarity, and collaboration in the fight for trans and gender-diverse rights. He acknowledged that transgender and gender-diverse individuals have historically faced discrimination, violence, and exclusion and called for the recognition that the fight for these rights is not isolated but intersects with other social justice movements such as feminism, queer rights, and the broader struggle for human rights.

Brown told delegates that in the spirit of solidarity, there was a need to unite efforts and amplify the voices of marginalized individuals, encouraging challenging misconceptions surrounding gender diversity and engaging in meaningful conversations that promote empathy and understanding. 

“By doing so, we can sow the seeds of compassion and dismantle the walls of ignorance and prejudice that have held us back,” he said. 

Brown added that collaboration was essential to the mission.

“We must forge partnerships with governments, civil society, academia, and other key stakeholders. By working hand in hand, we can develop policies and legislation that protect the rights and dignity of transgender and gender-diverse individuals. Together we can build societies that celebrate diversity rather than fear,” he said. 

Brown’s comments on positive engagements come after a wave of anti-gender sentiments plaguing parts of Africa - with Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni signing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law. At the same time, Kenya and Ghana were poised to table legislation that would eradicate the rights of the LGBTQ community. The queer community in Malawi and Botswana have also been under attack from religious groups, mobilizing support against laws that protect sexual minorities. 

However, Brown said that even under these difficult conditions for the queer community, there is still capacity to develop policies and legislation to protect the rights and dignity of transgender and gender-diverse individuals.

Brown also acknowledged the unique challenges faced by transgender and gender-diverse communities in different cultural, economic, and legal contexts, recognizing that cultural norms, economic disparities, and legal frameworks can differ vastly from one nation to another. He said an intersectional approach, which acknowledges and addresses these differences in the fight for trans and gender-diverse rights, was imperative. 

Furthermore, Brown emphasized that the struggle for these rights could not be confined within national borders. He described it as a global fight in which the community should learn from each other, share resources and celebrate victories together. In conclusion, he paid tribute to the allies, activists, and advocates who have paved the way for change, acknowledging their sacrifices and using them as inspiration to keep pushing forward - adding that the Pan Africa ILGA Conference was not just an event, but a turning point and catalyst for change.

Matuba Mahlatjie, Communications and Media Relations Manager, interviews Annette, the Strategic Communication Consultant in Kenya for National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) at Pan Africa ILGA Conference.

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