Sep 26, 2015

Reflections on the state of LGBT activism in Africa

Politics-unnamed-e1442207107717In 2014 at an annual summit of the African Union, Joachim Chissano – former head of state of Mozambique – made a declaration in which he called African nations to uphold the rights of all citizens, including sexual minorities, and consider the decriminalization of certain forms of sexual relationships between consenting adults. The speech may have caused a stir in that assembly room in Addis Ababa, but it hardly made headlines outside of Lusophone Africa. One year later, Mozambique would be amongst the first African countries to decriminalized homosexuality by removing penal sanctions inherited from its former Portuguese colonizer.

Despite the good news from Mozambique, many African governments continue to either ignore the issue of sexual discrimination amongst its citizens, or actively enact repressive policies and laws to punish sexual relationships between people of the same gender. The debate has become an internationally polarizing one, playing out in mainstream press, and in settings such as the United Nations General Assembly or the Human Rights Council. Sometimes eclipsed by the debates going on in these high profile arenas, it is worth noting that positive steps towards LGBT rights are also happening locally across the continent.

Contrary to what the international media would have you believe, there have been narrow windows opening for LGBT Africans in the past decade. These changes have occurred in legislation, judiciary decisions, courts, health policies and more importantly in shifting public opinions among the youth. There are lessons to be learned and numerous Africans to be praised for championing change.

In Botswana and Kenya, after years of challenges by local activists, court authorities have given LGBT organizations permission to operate within civil society. In 2004, Cape Verde decriminalized consensual relations between adults under the leadership of Pedro Pires, and Sao Tome & Principe also decriminalized homosexuality in 2013. In Rwanda, politicians and President Kagame himself have refrained from supporting a bill to criminalize homosexuality, unlike their immediate neighbours.

Gay pride events, which constitute the visible side of LGBT political mobilization in the West, are still an extremely rare occurrence on the continent (with the exception of South Africa). However, activists in countries such as Uganda and Mauritius have held Pride events in recent years (albeit in covert ways). In Cape Verde, the city of Mindelo now holds an annual street party where LGBT people and allies celebrate together.

The work of local LGBT groups and human rights defenders is crucial in spearheading the policy changes that we are beginning to witness. A growing number of LGBT organizations are documenting cases of violence and discrimination occurring in communities. In Nigeria for instance, human right defenders publish data on violations against LGBT people occurring in workplaces, families, police stations, housing, schools or healthcare institutions. This evidence is then used to lobby national human rights institutions — often with little success – as most national human rights institutions do not recognize LGBT rights as priority. However, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) has started to take note of our work. In 2014, it broke its silence on the matter by issuing its first ever resolution LGBT rights. Resolution 275 explicitly condemns violence against LGBT people noted across the continent, and calls for states to protect human rights defenders working with sexual minorities. Another notable win was the formal offer of observer status granted to the Coalition of African Lesbians this year.

Africa’s response to AIDS is also gradually giving attention to LGBT issues. Most countries now specify in their AIDS policies, the need to target men who have sex with men as priority groups. However, public health efforts are hampered by punitive laws against homosexuality that exist in 38 African countries. Negative public opinion further drives gender and sexual minorities underground and creates a climate of fear.

Training sessions on gender and sexual diversity are now delivered in the health sectors of most African countries. These programs often explore the impact of apathy, prejudice, stigma and discrimination toward sexual minorities. Among the health officials and providers taking part, it is common to see professionals struggling to name a single ally of LGBT people in their country. Gender experts admit that they have never met transgender people from their country. They readily admit that the root of stigma and discrimination — and the laws which entrench them — are rooted in ignorance, and the strict gender norms which prevail in our countries. This is at least a step forward.

The visibility of LGBT people comes at a high price, and many activists still fear to speak openly. But recent surveys show that attitudes are shifting. For example in Nigeria, one survey showed that acceptance of LGBT people is far higher among younger Nigerians. New ways of resistance are flourishing in the arts as well; writers like Abdallah Taia, Binyavanga Wainaina, Chimamamnda Ngozi Adichie, photographers like Zanele Muholi and poets like Diriye Osman are breaking boundaries and giving voice to previously hidden narratives. African scientists are also now joining the debate, The Uganda Academy of Sciences now recognizes that gender and sexual identity are “part of a continuum and that no positions on this spectrum are “unnatural”” – despite what President Yoweri Museveni and a proposed Ugandan law have claimed. The point is, Africa has always been a place of resistance to all forms of oppression. And beyond what the mainstream media would have you believe, the current direction of LGBT rights dialogues in several African countries should give us reason to hope for a better future for Africans of all sexual orientations.


Sep 26, 2015

We welcome CALBIA new Partner Out & Proud Uganda!

Calbia Executive Board just approved a cooperation with Out & Proud Uganda as our new Partner.
We welcome our sisters and brothers and look forward to common projects in Uganda.
Plese find more information about Out & Proud Uganda below.

official logoOut And Proud (O.A.P) is a non-professional, community-based organization founded by proud and out sexual minorities, determined and dedicated youth, operating in 10 towns across Entebbe.

Out and Proud was founded in March of 2015, and is not yet a registered business, or NGO. We are dedicated to advocating for universal human rights for all, including equal access of HIV/AIDS services for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) communities in the areas of Entebbe through advocacy with mainstream organizations, community approach and empowering the LGBTI with vital information on physical health, mental health, scientific research and occasional philosophical debate.

Our goals are to help the members of our communities, but also to share fact-based information for our straight neighbors and loved ones, so that we will no longer live in groups of “others.” We strive to break down the fear that misinformation breeds, and the harm is costs all our societies.

OAP has its headquarters in Entebbe, in the municipality of Lunyoo, near Entebbe international airport, the former capital city of Uganda which is located 31 kilometers by road, west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. It operates in surrounding towns such as Kitoro, Kataabi, Kitubulu, Abaita , Nkumba University, Akita, Kisubi, Namulanda, Kitende and Kajjansi.

OUR MISSION. To have a society in which the freedom, rights and equality of LGBTI people are granted and there is no discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity.

Our vision: To empower LGBT people and jointly advocate for their
respect and fulfillment of there rights.

Our values: transparency, responsiveness , mentoring, team work ,
accountability and celebrated diversity.

Jul 2, 2015

Mozambique decriminalises gay and lesbian relationships

Good news for LGBTQI community in Mozambique !

Mozambique Mozambique has decriminalised homosexuality in its new penal
code, making it one of a few African countries where same-sex
relationships are legal. The revised code, in force from Wednesday, drops a colonial-era clause outlawing “vices against nature”.  There were no prosecutions under that clause but rights activists have said this change is a symbolic victory.It comes as other African countries have moved to tighten anti-gay laws.
In Nigeria, a law that came into force last year banned same-sex public displays of affection and introduced a possible 14-year prison sentence for gay sex. A study released on

Tuesday found that 87% of  Nigerians supported a ban on same-sex relations. In Uganda, the government has pledged to introduce a new restrictive law after the last law which criminalised homosexuality was successfully challenged in the constitutional court.

Please refer to the original text at BBC News:*Morning+Brief&utm_campaign=New+Campaign

May 11, 2015

3 Questions on The Battle for Uganda

Interesting article from Advocate by James McDonald
“Uganda’s most prominent rights activist, Frank Mugisha, was in New York in March to accept a humanitarian award from Riverdale Country School and, on behalf of his organization, Sexual Minorities Uganda, to sue American Christian extremist Scott Lively for conspiring with Ugandan politicians and religious leaders to foment anti-gay hysteria. Lively’s influence is tied to the “kill the gays” legislation in that country. The case will likely go to trial in January 2016.
Mugisha_HavardHolmex633If you manage to get him convicted of crimes against humanity, what change do you think that will bring?
Because it is a civil case, he won’t go to prison, but he will have to pay for the damages my organization has suffered because of his conspiracy with Ugandan politicians. Our goal is not actually about the outcome of the case; our goal is the advocacy we’ve been able to do around the case. Extreme Christians will know that they cannot do these things, that they will be held accountable.
In August 2014, the Ugandan constitutional court annulled the anti-gay law that would have allowed for the death penalty for homosexuality. What has been the aftermath?
They cannot reinstate the same law, but they have brought up another one, which has not yet been introduced in our parliament. It’s called “prohibition of unnatural sexual practices,” and it doesn’t explicitly talk about homosexuality, but it defined homosexuality as an unnatural sexual practice…It talks about promotion of unnatural sexual practices, and then the promotion includes literature, involvement, funding, support, housing, and all that. So it actually becomes worse than the old law.
What can people outside Uganda do?
It’s good that you’re asking me about Uganda, because most people ask me, “What should people in the U.S. do for Africa?” Each country is different. You need to partner with activists in those countries, partner with human rights organizations, the embassies. The situation in Uganda is like the weather — it changes. The people on the ground know what is happening, they know the system, how it works.
The U.S. comes off as the country that is very open, and has so many LGBT persons in so many areas. I think if they raise their voices, talk to their allies, and say, “We simply don’t like what’s happening”…it’s seen differently when ordinary persons [speak up] as opposed to politicians. A politician is concerned with power, and an ordinary person is simply concerned about another gay person. Simply ask their representative, “What are you doing about the situation in Uganda?” They have an obligation to their own constituents.”
Aug 21, 2014

How to write about the deaths of people who don’t matter (by Sisonke Msimang)

193x285q70sisonke-new-photo-02 I was asked this week what it takes to tell the stories of black lesbians killed in the townships in South Africa. The answer, in some ways, lies in Ferguson, Missouri, far away from South Africa, in an American community that has been burning all week.

There is much that South African journalists and editors can learn from the coverage of the protests that have arisen in the wake of Michael Brown’s death. Under normal circumstances the shooting death of a black teenager from a segregated community in the Southern state of Missouri would not have garnered much attention nationally, let alone globally. After all, two black men are killed every week by law enforcement officials in the US – most of them unarmed. Indeed, until he died, it is unlikely that Michael Brown mattered much to anyone except those who loved him. In his death he has come to matter a great deal to a great many people in America and beyond.

Brown has come to be a symbol of the nature and effect of everyday oppression. The response by the police to those who protested his killing has also shone a spotlight on the ways in which once activated, the systems of policing and repression mimic one another across contexts. Connected by tactics and technology, Gaza and Ferguson mirror one another. Both echo the scenes of militarisation and police aggression South Africans saw as Marikana flashed across their screens two years ago.

Michael Brown would have mattered less if Trayvon Martin hadn’t been killed in cold blood in 2012. He might have mattered far less if scores of journalists hadn’t trooped to Ferguson, drawn by the stench of America’s inner city decay and lured by the drama of a police force armed to the teeth against a citizenry that it has been trained to denigrate and demean.

But he does matter now. His death has sparked protests across America. This week, as I have pored over accounts of what happened to Brown and why, I have come across some of the finest writing I have seen in US journalism since 1992 when the police who brutalised Rodney King were allowed to walk free.

Because there are finally a few senior black journalists working for outlets of national significance in the US, to ensure that Ferguson is covered as an event that matters, Brown’s death and the subsequent protests have been covered with a sensitivity and intelligence that is rare in events related to racial minorities in the US.

Prominent writers like Jelani Cobb at the New Yorker and Ta-Nehesi Coates at The Atlantic have been consistent critics of American segregation. The explosion of Ferguson allows them to weave their considerable gifts of narration into the telling of this particular tragedy.

They have been joined by a chorus of other voices including Buzzfeed’s Joel Anderson, whose haunting account of his first night in Ferguson is avisceral read. Alongside John Legend (yes, the singer has been prolific and smart on Twitter), Melissa Perry, and other public intellectuals, they have demonstrated the extent to which the story of Ferguson – its neglect and its community spirit, its unacceptable levels of unemployment and its history – is part of the broader and on-going story of America’s struggle to live up to the ideals upon which it was founded.

They have been particularly compelling because despite his rocky tenure in office, the person of Barack Obama has managed to change the narrative of racial equality in America into one of triumph rather than one of pathology and dereliction. This has been important in some ways, even as the deaths of black boys at the hands of white men remind us that Obama’s America is not the only America. The soaring mobility of his family, the manner in which their perfect noses point to the sun – these have obscured the complex reality of racism in America’s cities in the last seven years.

Brown’s death allows America to do what it does best – to plumb the depths of its soul in search of meaning. That she seldom learns the lessons that her poorest citizens teach her is another matter altogether, but for those wanting to learn, Ferguson’s critics offer many instructions on how to report with grace and dignity about people no one is supposed to care about.

On Friday last week a lesbian named Gift Makau was found dead in Ventersdorp near her home. She had been mutilated, which is not unusual in hate-motivated crimes against gay people. She died in the way that many other lesbians in Gauteng have died in recent years. Her body bore the marks of loathing. A wire hanger, a hosepipe; the details of what was done with them do not bear repeating.

The lack of in-depth coverage of her death is yet another reminder that our media are still learning to cover the daily struggles of people who are unimportant. We have world-class investigative journalists who write fine pieces about corruption. The resources of our newsrooms, the energy of our best anchors and most seasoned journalists are reserved for the corruption stories. The scoops about governance and other sorts of political malfeasance hog our headlines and dominate our national discussions. There is no question that these corruption stories are essential. They tell us something about the state of our nation.

But they are not the only stories that speak to our collective health. Yet editors make choices every day, and most days; the stories they assign to their best and brightest are not about lesbians and children and pit latrines and hostels.

Our press doesn’t seem to know what to do with the murders and violent deaths of poor people. And so they either leave them unreported, or detail them with clinical distance. Just the facts: two teenagers found dead in a field outside White City. A man charged with burning a woman alive appeared in the magistrate’s court today. He was denied bail.

On television, Gift’s family cries. Their daughter has been murdered. The local councillor says that it is because “the community doesn’t accept gays”. The journalist makes no comment. This is as much analysis as we will get in this story.

I pore over the papers. I want to know whom she loved. I would like someone to tell me whether or not she wrote poetry. Who was her first love? What are the names of her siblings? Was she the first- or the lastborn? These questions do not explain the crime but their answers render Gift a subject. They will tell me about the contours of her heart and perhaps these are the facts that matter the most. These are the kinds of minutiae that stick in your head, that stay lodged there long after you have turned off the radio.

They are the sorts of details that make old ladies in church suck their teeth dismissively when their pastor suggests that homosexuality is unnatural. They remember Gift and her poetry or the way she protectively walked her brother or sister home each day and then had no one to protect her when she needed it. These are the ‘facts’ that make ‘lesbian’ mean something that is flesh and blood and breathing. Something that is as soft as it may be hard, something that is tender and belongs to us all.

Telling the stories of black lesbians or sex workers or drug users or car guards or homeless men can only happen when the lives that they live are respected. But in the end nothing will change if we continue to obsess about how people die and neglect to write about how they live.

Sisonke Msimang

For original source refer to:


Aug 10, 2014

Ugandan homosexuals hold pride parade

ENTEBBE, Uganda (AP) — Scores of Ugandan homosexuals marched through sprawling botanical gardens in the lakeside town of Entebbe on Saturday, their first pride parade since a Ugandan court invalidated a controversial anti-gay law. Many marchers wore masks, signaling they did not want to be publicly identified in a country where homosexuals and their supporters face severe discrimination.

Uganda Gay PrideAlthough organizers had expected more than 500 people to attend the event, fewer than 200 turned up, said gay activist Moses Kimbugwe, who noted that many were afraid of possible violence following a court’s decision earlier this month to jettison an anti-gay law that had wide support among Ugandans.

“We are here to walk for those who can’t walk, who are afraid to walk,” said Kimbugwe. “We are here to celebrate our rights.”

Uganda’s Constitutional Court ruled last week that the anti-gay law enacted only five months ago was illegal because it was passed during a parliamentary session that lacked a quorum. Some lawmakers have pledged to try to reintroduce the same legislation when parliament emerges from a recess later this month. They said they would try to pass the same law in parliament since it had been invalidated on technical grounds and not its substance.

On Saturday, activists held up placards saying they would not give up the fight for gay rights in this conservative East African country of 36 million people. Some waved rainbow flags as they danced and frolicked on a sandy beach on the shores of Lake Victoria, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the capital, Kampala.

This was the third annual gay pride event, organizers said. The first one, in 2012, turned violent after local police tried to break it up, said Ugandan lesbian activist Jacqueline Kasha. This time they had been given assurances by the police that they could go ahead with the march, she said.

“We are a group of people who have suffered enough,” she said. “We are Ugandans who have the right to gather in a public place … and we are going to have fun.”

Some among the marchers said they had initially planned to hold the event in Kampala but were warned by police that such a move would be provocative and possibly dangerous.

Homosexuals face threats including evictions by landlords and many have fled to neighboring countries such as Kenya, where the anti-gay sentiment is less pervasive, according to Ugandan rights activists. Many homosexuals are victims of extortionist campaigns by people who threaten to reveal their homosexuality to the police, said Kasha, the lesbian leader.

Homosexuality had been mostly a taboo subject in Uganda until a lawmaker, saying he wanted to protect children from Western gays, introduced a bill in 2009 prescribing the death penalty for what the bill described as serious homosexual offenses. The bill was revised to remove the death penalty and instead have jail terms of up to life for convicted homosexuals. Watchdogs groups and some Western governments condemned the bill as draconian and unnecessary in a country where homosexuality had long been a criminal offense.

Apr 16, 2014

We welcome Y-Fem our new Partner

YFEM LOGOY-Fem was founded in late 2009 out of a frustration that young women’s voices were still invisible in the independent Namibia in public spaces. The feminist movement of young women was not vibrant and invisible. Y-fem was born out of a dream to document the herstory of young Namibian women through a feminist lens. It was born to support and strengthen young women’s groups by creating safe spaces for young women to lead and organise themselves. Y-Fem main focus area is on building leadership on women’s human rights, sexual Reproductive Health and Rights of young women and young lesbians. We work in 4 regions: Khomas, Erongo, Otjizonzupa, Oshikoto with women below 30 years. We advocate for comprehensive sexuality education in Namibia. Y-Fem is not a membership base organisation lingers more of a collective voice as it forms part of a broader feminist movement in Namibia. 

Aug 27, 2013

Government to Introduce Hate Crime in SA Law

Tue, 27 August 2013


Justice Minister Jeff Radebe

“Jeff Radebe, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, has confirmed that the government intends to introduce the concept of hate crimes into South African criminal law.

He also said that the government aims to make hate speech a crime, without sacrificing “South Africa’s commitment to high standards of free expression”.
Radebe made the groundbreaking statements at a panel discussion under the theme “Imagine a World Without Hate!” hosted by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies in Sandton on Sunday.


He told the audience that one of the key motivations for the proposed changes to the law, included in a draft policy framework, is “the violent targeting of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, for example the so-called ‘corrective rape’ and murder of lesbians and transgender men, especially in townships.”
Radebe said that other motivators included a number of recent racist and xenophobic attacks as well as vandalism targeting religious institutions.


“Acts such as these that are motivated by social bias based on the identity (with reference to race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity) of the victim are forms of bias-motivated violence, more commonly referred to domestically and internationally as ‘hate crimes’,” said Radebe, adding “…like we did with fascism and apartheid, working together we will defeat these hate motivated crimes.”


He further explained that “hate crimes are ‘message’ crimes that send fear to an entire community that identifies with the victim.
“As such, hate crimes, particularly when they do not meet an adequate response from the State, violate fundamental principles of equality and non-discrimination and can lead to social unrest,” he said.
Radebe’s speech reflects a positive move away from his earlier suggestion that hate crime legislation was not needed in South Africa.


In 2011, he said that he was against the idea of categorising corrective rape as a hate crime because “rape is rape regardless of the motive of the offender”. Unlike what is the case in a growing number of countries, South African law does not currently acknowledge hate crimes as being a unique form of crime.
Radebe went on to state: “We have in earnest started with work to enact relevant legislative instruments that would make it punishable by law to commit acts of hatred against lesbians and gays.” He said that his department is now finalising a memorandum to approach Cabinet for its approval of the policy framework and for approval to commence with a public participation process.
It is unclear how long this process will take.”

Article from

Jul 27, 2013

Zimbabwe president calls for the beheading of gays

Friday, July 26, 2013
MUTARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe president
Robert Mugabe stepped up his campaign against LGBT Zimbabweans during an election rally of his Zanu PF party supporters in Mutare earlier this week, calling for the beheading of gays.“If you take men and lock them in a house for five years and tell them to come up with two children and they fail to do that, then we will chop off their heads,” he said on Tuesday.

Robert Mugabe

Mugabe, who has described gays as worse than barn yard animals, also criticized Barack Obama for linking foreign aid to the protection of LGBT rights, and slammed African countries that have not criminalized same-sex acts, saying they are “succumbing to European countries in exchange for aid.”

“We need continuity of our culture. This culture comes from the norm that women carry pregnancies for nine months. If there is anyone who disputes that, he should lift up his hands to say no I fell from heaven,” Mugabe said.

“This thing [homosexuality] seeks to destroy our lineage by saying John and John should wed, Maria and Maria should wed. Imagine this son born out of an African father, [US President Barrack] Obama says if you want aid, you should accept the homosexuality practice. Aah, we will never do that,” he said.

In response, the Gay and Lesbian Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) filed a complaint against Mugabe with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for inciting anti-gay hate speech.

“These statements have created a climate of intolerance, fear, coercion, intimidation and acts of vengeance directed at gays and lesbians. They are also a violation of section 5, a, b, c and 6b of the electoral code of conduct,” the complaint reads.

GALZ said the incitement to hate and climate “has resulted in incidents such as an attack on the GALZ [office] on the 6th of June 2013 by five unidentified men wielding hammers… under the guide of preserving Zimbabwean culture as called for by the President.”

Earlier this month, Mugabe said that gays and lesbians who do not conceive should be jailed, and criticized Obama’s stance on LGBT rights as “forgetting” his African roots.

Male homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe, and in 2006 the country’s government amended the law which now states that sodomy is any “act involving contact between two males that would be regarded by a reasonable person as an indecent act,” thereby criminalizing holding hands, hugging, or kissing.

Mugabe has been continually attacking LGBT people since 1995 saying they are “worse than dogs and pigs” “unnatural” and “degrading human dignity.”

Jul 16, 2013

Beating death of LGBT activist Eric Lembembe in Cameroon

Original Posted on Erasing 76 Crimes on by Eric O. Lembembe

Eric Ohena Lembembe


LGBT activist and reporter Eric Ohena Lembembe was beaten to death over the weekend, LGBT activists in Cameroon announced today. Fellow activists said they found his bloody, lifeless body early today at his home in Yaoundé,  Cameroon. Investigations by human rights defenders are under way to discover who was responsible for the crime.

At his death, he was serving as the local executive director of the Cameroonian Foundation For AIDS (Camfaids), an advocacy group fighting against AIDS and for human rights of LGBT people in Cameroon, which is one of the world’s most violently anti-gay nations. Lembembe, a regular contributor to the Erasing 76 Crimes blog, was the author of one of the blog’s most popular articles, “What traditional African homosexuality learned from the West.”

That article is included in the book From Wrongs to Gay Rights, along with his articles about Roger Mbede, who was imprisoned because of an amorous text message to a man; Franky Djome and Jonas Kumie, who were imprisoned because they are a transgender couple; anti-gay blackmailer/extortioner Albert Edward Ekobo Samba; and the homophobic attack on last year’s IDAHO celebration in Yaoundé. He formerly worked as a writer and editor for the monthly Tribune du Citoyen in Cameroon.

A proper obituary and reports on the investigation of his death will be forthcoming later.