Today May 17th marks seventeen years since the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) was introduced.
This day is significant because it draws attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.
Before I go any further, let’s take a moment of silence for all our LGBTIQ+ activists and community members in Africa and beyond who have lost their innocent lives due to stigma, discrimination and violence. May all your souls rest in eternal power.
LGBTIQ+ people in Africa still face a lot of challenges. Denial of their rights to freedom, safety, and equality remains a “normal status quo” in all corners of the continent. From Cameroon, Sierra leone to Kenya, Tunisia, South Africa, Uganda and more, they continue to face pervasive discrimination, experience intolerable acts of violence that go unpunished, and lack access to justice. These experiences cannot be separated from struggles they may also face on account of other intersecting identities.
The COVID-19 pandemic did not make things easier. It disrupted people’s lives socially and economically in a global challenge, the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades. While many governments were swift (and continue) to implement economic stimulus packages, lockdowns and curfews, marginalised groups such as LGBTIQ+ persons, women, and sex workers found themselves at the margins of these responses. They faced greater social injustice than ever before.
Pan Africa ILGA, through its membership, remains committed to raising awareness about these challenges from across the continent. We will continue building coalitions and engaging organisations both local and international to fight against LGBTQI+ discrimination in Africa.
Above all, we will continue working together with our membership across the continent to advocate for Africa that respects and celebrates the dignity of all individuals. In partnership, we will achieve our goal of a rights-respecting, inclusive society where no one lives in fear because of who they are or whom they love.
Together, we will resist, support and heal!