African Human Rights Commission Adopts Continent’s First Resolution Against Anti-LGBT Violence

Africa - BannerOn May 22, 2014 BuzzFeed reported: The African Union’s human rights commission has adopted a resolution condemning violence against LGBTI people, marking the first time an African human rights body has held that LGBTI people are protected under human rights law. The move is a direct rebuke to member states Nigeria and Uganda, which both recently passed extreme anti-LGBTI measures.

The resolution, adopted earlier this month by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), “condemns the increasing incidence of violence and other human rights violations, including murder, rape, assault, arbitrary imprisonment and other forms of persecution of persons on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation or gender identity.” It also “specifically condemns … systematic attacks by State and non-state actors.”

“It is a big deal,” said Monica Tabengwa, a longtime lesbian activist from Botswana who now works for Human Rights Watch in Nairobi. The resolution lacks any enforcement mechanism, but in a context where many African leaders are sanctioning anti-LGBTI violence while arguing that LGBTI rights are an invention of the U.S. and Europe, it sends a critical message.

“There has never been anything like this before. It will be very symbolic,” Tabengwa said. “It’s a homegrown resolution saying [LGBTI people] are human beings … it’s about [protecting] people’s lives.”

The resolution now goes before the full African Union, which includes almost every country on the continent, and the AU has the option of rejecting the resolution, Tabengwa said. Resolutions are usually only rejected on procedural grounds, but contentious nature of this resolution makes it hard to predict what will happen.

“We have no precedent,” Tabengwa said. “I don’t know what the AU will do.”  Continued

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