A call for submissions: LGBT rights are human rights.

IGLHRC, Global Rights, INTERIGHTS, ICJ-Kenya and CAL are pleased to announce a call to writers, in the broader sense of the word, to submit pieces of writing of less than a thousand words on the topic LGBT rights are human rights.

Background
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (“ACHPR”) contemplated under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights was established on 2 November 1987 to monitor states parties’ compliance with their obligations under the Charter, and to promote the full implementation of the Charter nationally and regionally. Since its establishment, the ACHPR has worked with human rights defenders and Non Governmental Organisations (“NGOs”) in the discharge of its mandates. The Commission has also contributed to the development of human rights jurisprudence, especially in the areas of economic, social and cultural rights.

The African Charter provides a framework for “NGO’s” to play an important role in the effective functioning of the African human rights system, in particular the promotional and protective work of the ACHPR. It is within this framework that Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexuals and Transgenders (“LGBT”) issues were introduced at the ACHPR at its 39th ordinary session in Banjul, Gambia at which African LGBT people openly voiced their concerns.

Following the groundbreaking participation of out LGBT people at the 39th ordinary session of the Commission, LGBT advocates from various part of the continent, with the support of International Gays and Lesbians Human Rights Commission (“IGLHRC”) and the Coalition of African Lesbians (“CAL”), took part to subsequent sessions of the commission, consistently drawing the attention of the NGO forum and the ACHPR, on the treatment of LGBT people on the continent. Their active participation, at the NGO forum, over the past three years have enabled the mainstream African human rights movements to begin engaging with rights of LGBT people. At the 40th ordinary session of the Commission, IGLHRC and Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) submitted a shadow report on Uganda to which the Ugandan government responded, a resolution on the situation of human rights defenders with an emphasis on the situation of LGBT rights defenders was adopted at the 41st session of the ACHPR, various statements have been delivered on the situation of LGBT people on the continent by both LGBT and mainstream human rights organizations, commissioners begun to ask various representatives when presenting the country reports on their treatment of LGBT people. The ACHPR is however yet to articulate its position on the rights of LGBT people.

At its 44rd ordinary session, LGBT rights defenders were formally invited by the NGO forum to lead discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity at the NGO forum due to take place in May 9 — 11, 2009 in Banjul, Gambia. The aim of the discussion will be to facilitate an engagement with individuals and NGOs represented on LGBT rights in order to consolidate a common position on LGBT rights, to assist in bringing LGBT rights within broader human rights agenda and to highlight for the commission the violations continue unabated aided by the failure to have a common position on the need to respect, protect and promote the rights of LGBT people.

Context

The need to ensure support from the ACHPR in protecting the rights of LGBT people cannot be over-emphasized. The 45th session will take place at a time when South Africa is yet to prosecute those responsible for the murder of Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Masooa, Senegal has sentenced 9 men to 8 years in prison under the charges of “unnatural acts” and “association of criminals”. Nigeria is prosecuting 18 men in Bauchi under the charges of “vagrancy and idleness”. Four women who had been charged for “unnatural acts and incitement to homosexuality” in 2007 in Cameroon, are currently serving a 3 years suspended sentence and could be rearrested and jailed for up to 6 months in case they continue their “lesbianism practices” during the three years. Cases like these are common. Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people are often subject to state and non-state human rights abuses throughout the continent. These Human Rights violations are often the direct or indirect effect of an existing law criminalizing same-sex conduct, and/or the non-existence of a codified mechanism protecting the rights of LGBT people on the continent.

38 out of 54 African States still have on their statute books laws criminalising consensual same sex practices among adults. There is also a new wave of legislation and review of criminal laws in order to criminalise same sex relationships. In December 2008, Burundi, a country that has never criminalised same sex relationships included it in their new penal code, which otherwise would have been progressive because it abolished the death penalty. Nigeria is involved in lawmaking aimed at criminalising same-gender marriages. Similar laws were included in the constitutions of Uganda and Burundi in 2005. In 2006, an attempt by the Rwandan government to include sodomy such laws in its penal code failed.

For more examples of ongoing violations, see annexure A

About the booklet

Increasingly, people linked and those not linked to the LGBT movement have continued to make their voices heard on the subject of LGBT rights by saying that LGBT rights are human rights. The booklet will be comprised of writings from opinion makers, mostly writers, from all over the continent. The booklet will be distributed at the NGO forum to participants, State delegates, and Commissioners.

– Writers are asked to respond to the struggle of LGBT rights in Africa focusing on events related to the treatment of the LGBT community on the continent in less than a thousand words.
– The submissions can either be in a form of an essay, a song, a poem, a letter, fiction or any other form of expression that can be printed.
– The overarching message needs to be LGBT rights are human rights or that criminal laws have no place in matters involving consenting adults.

The submissions should be sent by e-mail to:

Joel Gustave Nana –jnana at iglhrc dot org
The e-mail subject should be:
LGBT Human Rights booklet

The closing date for submissions is:
14- April- 2009