Accepted paper:

LGBTI Activism in a Small State: the case of Sao Tome and Principe


Rui Garrido (ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon)

Paper short abstract:

This paper seeks to understand the dynamics of LGBTI activism in context of a Small State. Looking for Sao Tome and Principe, it tries to have a glimpse of the urban mobilization of this groups.

Paper long abstract:

The African LGBTI activism runs in a very hostile landscape. Across the African continent, human rights groups working with LGBTI issues face State and social repression. Urban spaces usually are perceived as places of security and anonymity, but that is not so clear in a context of a Small State. São Tomé and Principe (STP) is considered a Small State, with a population around 192000 inhabitants, in which 65% lives in urban areas, and 1001 km2 of territory, the country in 2015 was 143 in the Human Development Index (UNDP, 2015). STP decriminalized the same-sex activity between consenting adults in 2012, when the country adopted a new Penal Code. The Constitution of 2003 proclaims the principle of equality under the Law between all citizens. The political and juridical environment of the archipelago is not hostile to the sexual minorities, in opposition to other African nations. Meanwhile this much more favorable situation to LGBTI people, the activism in favor of sexual minorities is virtually nonexistent. Few NGO in the country work directly with human rights issues, and for these, sexual minorities are not a priority. But why this invisibility of LGBTI in Sao Tome and Principe? The capital city, Sao Tome, is not a big city that provides anonymity for these people, but it's a vital space. How these people organize themselves? What kind of activism they practice? This paper seeks to understand the organization of groups operate in the São Tome and Principe.

panel P118
LGBTI Activism in Lusophone Africa and beyond: organization and dynamics in urban contexts