On World AIDS Day AHRC Calls for Decriminalization of Sexual Minorities and Gender Identity

Given the following, on this WORLD AIDS DAY, 2022, African Human rights Coalition calls for the decriminalization of LGBTQI+ people, in Africa and worldwide. It is our belief that for as long as any community or minority is so unjustly abused as a direct result of criminalization, the secrecy, hiding and resulting failed transparency only serves to exacerbate the scourge of HIV+ AIDS. There is no way the goal to end AIDS can occur if any single community is singled out for violence that serves to shut them out of medical systems.” Melanie Nathan, Executive Director of African Human Rights Coalition. (AHRC)

In over 70 countries worldwide people are criminalized based on their sexual orientation and/ or gender identity and/or sex characteristics (SOGIESC). This is often described as state sponsored homophobia. Working in the world of displaced LGBTQI+ people from the over 30 countries which criminalize SOGIESC on the Continent of Africa, and in my capacity as a country conditions expert witness for LGBTQI+ asylum seekers from 18 African countries, and reflecting on scholarly research, I am clear in noting that such criminalization licenses state and non-state actors to flagrantly breach the most basic of human rights, with discrimination and violence.

The African Commission of Human and People’s Rights in RESOLUTION 275, 2014, called upon Governments and all to “end all acts of violence and abuse based on sexual orientation, whether committed by state or non-state actors, by putting in place effective laws, ensuring proper investigations, and prosecutions of the perpetrators and establishing judicial procedures to the needs of victims.” This has NOT occurred in the over 30 African countries that participate via state and non-state actors in the following direct harms to LGBTQI+ individuals, all a result of criminalization:

Melanie Nathan, country conditions expert witness in the U.S. Courts for LGBTqI+ asylum seekers: “The criminalization of sexuality seeks to reinforce norms also forms a symbiosis with societal stigma, taboo of sexual orientation and gender identity and it tends to give community license to ostracize, alienate and harm LGBTI people. In some settings, sexual and gender minorities who suffer violence are not viewed as victims of prejudice. Rather, abuse is tolerated as a ‘corrective’ measure: Given the criminalization and stigma of LGBTI people, persecution takes varying forms and LGBTI people who have contacted AHRC have reported some or all of the following circumstances directly linked to being outed as gay or lesbian or perceived as such:

In combination with one of the below, there are numerous reports of firing from jobs, expulsion from schools, banishment from villages, evictions from premises, beatings, blackmail, extortion, honor killings, kidnappings, disappearances, rape and murder.

  • So-called ‘mob justice,’ further described as mobs gathering outside residences, private or public places, or in village centers where a person has been exposed, with the intent of exerting ‘justice’ through beatings or stone throwing at the accused LGBTI person. Injuries sustained have varied from minor to extensive, including reports of resulting death.

  • So-called “corrective” or “curative” rape: This is endemic in African countries. At AHRC we receive many reports per year from lesbians reporting “curative” or “corrective” rape.

  • Forced marriage; AHRC is contacted often by LGBTI people declaring that they are being forced into heterosexual marriages by family, community and clergy. This is a problem that is extremely difficult for LGBTI people in that country. If not married by a certain age, most often no later than one’s early twenties, life in the family and community setting becomes problematic and fraught with resulting abuse.

  • Danger in seeking medical and mental health services and treatment: Sexual health and mental health problems are serious concerns for LGBTI, many of whom suffer trauma and who live under acute anxiety and fear of being exposed or bringing shame and humiliation to themselves or their families. It is virtually impossible for a LGBTQI+ person to seek medical and mental health services for fear of being outed, stigmatization and discrimination, which could occur by virtue of the nature of the services sought. There is a high likelihood that being outed would lead to detention, torture, rape, and forms of violence. The need to recognize the existence of LGBTI diverse sexual and mental health needs, and to link them to appropriate health care and pyscho-social services is a significant failure for a LGBTQI+ person’s health and well-being.

This all leads to FORCED DISPLACEMENT – refugees and asylum seekers who are GBTQI+ are among the 100 million forcibly displaced individuals worldwide.

DONATIONS TO HELP SAFE SHELTER LGBTQI+ AFRICANS ARE NEEDED AND WELCOMED HERE.

No person should be forced to leave the home …. for any reason!

MELANIE NATHAN
nathan@AfricanHRC.org
http://www.melnathan.com


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