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African Charter Belongs to Everyone - Regardless of Sexual Orienation

By Coalition of African Lesbians - 2011-10-23 - Updated: 2015-08-27

Summary

The Coalition of African Lesbians recognizes the 30th anniversary of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

"The African Charter was adopted on the 27th of June, 1981, in Kenya with the objective to promote and protect human and people’s rights and freedoms in the African continent."

Main Document

As we observe the 30th anniversary of the African Charter, there are reports of continuous harassment, arbitrary arrests, rapes and murders of Africans on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Such is the case in Ghana, Togo, Cameroon, Uganda, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa, among others. In many other African states the criminal laws against same sex sexual conduct continues to expose an already marginalized population of people to abuse and violation.

The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) joins the African Union member states, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, the members of African civil society organizations and their international partners in the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

The African Charter was adopted on the 27th of June, 1981, in Kenya with the objective to promote and protect human and people’s rights and freedoms in the African continent.

The duty to interpret and oversee the implementation of the Charter was tasked to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACmHPR), which was officially inaugurated on the 2nd of November 1987 in Addis Abba, Ethiopia.

CAL commends the ACmHPR on the establishment of special mechanisms such as special rapporteurs and working groups to assist the investigation and reporting of human rights violations in the member states. These special mechanisms have provided a platform for effective monitoring of human rights concerns in the continent, human rights defenders and communities at risk to report.

However, we are concerned by the ACmHPR’s selective definition of what constitutes human rights. This was illustrated by it denying the observer status to CAL in 2010 on the basis that ‘the activities of the said organization – CAL do not promote and protect any of the rights enshrined in the African Charter’. It is noteworthy that CAL is a non-governmental organization whose mandate is the actual promotion and protection of the human rights of lesbians, bisexual and trans-diverse people in Africa.

As we observe the 30th anniversary of the African Charter, there are reports of continuous harassment, arbitrary arrests, rapes and murders of Africans on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Such is the case in Ghana, Togo, Cameroon, Uganda, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa, among others.

In many other African states the criminal laws against same sex sexual conduct continues to expose an already marginalized population of people to abuse and violation.

We, the Coalition of African Lesbians, strongly demand that the ACHPR formally acknowledge and recognize sexual orientation and gender identity as a basis upon which human rights violations are committed, every day in Africa, and condemn them as human rights violations.

We further call for special measures to eradicate and eliminate discrimination and violence against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

We demand that the ACHPR embrace the true diversity of humanity through the promotion of the universality, inviolability and indivisibility of human rights.

The African Charter is universal; it applies to all of us regardless of whether we are lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans-diverse persons!

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