In economic terms, Africa is described as a rising continent. However in social terms, 38 African countries have laws that impose criminal sanctions for consensual same-sex conduct. These legal provisions are also used by police and other authorities against transgender individuals.
But that does not mean African LGBTI activists are silent.
In March 2014, the Kenyan capital and African activists will host the continent’s Second International Conference on African Same-Sex Sexualities and Gender Diversity. The meeting will be held from the March 17-20.
The conference’s mission will be, ‘To identify and celebrate indigenous and evolving male, female and/or gender variant same-sex sexual practices, identities and communities, including expressions of gender diversity, and to promote their social acceptance and their physical and social well-being.’
Despite the tremendous odds facing the LGBTi community, their work to create a space on the continent that respects sexual and gender diversity continues with fervour. Individuals flung across the continent continue putting their lives at risk as human rights defenders.
‘There are positive developments taking place across the continent and this is taking place both at local and regional levels. But the journey for a more inclusive continent is far from over, therefore local conversations/activism need to be kept alive and connected to the global movement. This conference provides an avenue for African activists to, first and foremost, celebrate their identities, take stock of their achievements, struggles and chart a way to bring about greater social change,’ says Lucy Mung’ala, Rights and Citizenship Programme Manager.
The conference is a joint initiative of Hivos, HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioural Studies (New York) and Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC, South Africa). It builds on the first edition of the conference, which was held in Pretoria, South Africa in 2011.