Political struggle and resistance in the African Human Rights System: the case of sexual orientation
Rui Garrido (ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon)
Paper short abstract:
This paper aims to analyze the development of sexual orientation as a prohibited ground in the African Human Rights System (AHRS) and how States are dealing with sexual minorities demands.
Paper long abstract:
This paper aims to analyze the recognition of sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination in the African Human Rights System (AHRS) and the resistance from African Union political bodies to such recognition. In a continent of 55 States, only South Africa recognize and protect sexual orientation in its Constitution. Thirty-three African states have legislation criminalizing people and organizations, in contravention with national constitutions, and international standards. Those laws fuel widespread state homophobia in several parts of the continent and have a significant impact on the daily life of LGBT African citizens. The African Commission on Human and People's Rights (the Commission) took steps forward, recognizing in 2011, sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination, and LGBTI people as vulnerable groups. In 2014, the Commission adopted a resolution concerning violence towards people based on its "real or imputed" sexual orientation and gender identity. This resolution represents a turning point on the human rights policy towards sexual orientation. In 2015, the Commission granted observer status to an NGO named Coalition of African Lesbian. To all this, the AU's Executive Council responded with a hostile approach, attacking the heart of the Commission's mandate and independence. Through an analysis of the main developments of sexual orientation in the AHRS, the paper seeks to discuss how the question is being handled by the African Human Rights System, how it may protect sexual minorities, and how States are dealing with the issue domestically.
LGBT human rights in Africa: struggles and strategies