HRC Blog

Nairobi hosts Pan Africa ILGA Conference

Post submitted by Jane Thirikwa, HRC Global Engagement Fellow

On the background of mounting anti-LGBT ideologies and legislature in Africa, over 150 LGBT activists from across Africa converged in Nairobi, Kenya for the Pan Africa ILGA conference. The meeting aimed at discussions on a common regional strategy to address equality and nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

As one of the two Global Engagement Fellows at the Human Rights Campaign, I hosted a workshop on the role of allies in advocacy on LGBT issues across Africa. I highlighted HRC Global Engagement Program’s collaboration with dedicated advocates in furthering LGBT human rights efforts.

A collective concern was evangelical activists, mainly from the U.S. who have injected themselves in African politics, speaking against LGBT rights and cheering on anti-LGBT legislation. Besides calling out Americans for exporting this hate, HRC has stood in solidarity with activists from countries such as Russia, Uganda and Nigeria, to speak out against state-sponsored homophobia and draconian anti-LGBT legislature.

As a result of new anti-LGBT laws enacted in Nigeria and Uganda, other African countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia have threatened to enact similar laws. The bushfire of anti-LGBT legislation that is spreading across Africa is fuelling violence, incited by some African leaders seeking political popularity. Activists therefore felt that now more than ever, it is important to consolidate the movement and further progress in self-organizing on a regional level.

In Kenya, my affiliate organization - Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) - and the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) have been dealing with an influx of LGBT refugees fleeing Uganda, the Congo basin, Eritrea and Ethiopia.  Activists from Nigeria, Uganda, Senegal and Egypt described arbitrary arrests, public humiliation and violence against LGBT people in their countries.

Through collective action, visibility and dedication to achievement of equality, activists expressed optimism that the regional body will strengthen advocacy to end all forms of discrimination against LGBT Africans. PAI is the Africa regional body of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). 

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