ARTICLE 19 welcomes the resolution of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on ‘Protection against Violence and other Human Rights Violations against Persons on the basis of their real or imputed Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity’. We call on all African Union member states to ensure that the resolution is given meaning through domestic action.
During its 55th session held in Luanda, Angola, from 28 April to 12 May 2014, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) adopted a landmark resolution calling for the protection of the rights of all individuals irrespective of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The resolution reaffirms the rejection of discrimination and inhuman and degrading treatment based on any ground and urges parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (African Charter) to take adequate measures to stop and prosecute acts of violence against any person on the basis of their real or imputed sexual orientation or gender identity’
The resolution comes at a time when in many parts of Africa and beyond, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are subject to increasing persecution by state and non-state actors. This includes the adoption of repressive laws and policies to further criminalise same-sex relations and limit advocacy around the human rights of LGBT people, which has increased stigmatisation and violence against LGBT people and other human rights defenders on the continent.
In most parts of Africa, violence against LGBT people is a significant factor in silencing LGBT voices and censoring objective public debate. These problems are compounded by impunity for rights violations committed against LGBT people and those that work to defend the human rights of LGBT people. Too often, the state fails in its obligation to condemn these attacks and ensure speedy and adequate investigations. Media outlets sometimes worsen this prejudicial environment by disseminating hate speech unchallenged, and refusing to give LGBT people space to make their voices heard on public platforms.
ARTICLE 19 commends the ACHPR for this first step in recognising that in all places, states must refrain from violating the rights of all people in their territories bases on sexual orientation or gender identity, and ensure effective protection against attacks as well as redress for violations.
We call on all African Union member states to ensure that the resolution is given meaning through domestic action.
The resolution is significant as it builds upon efforts made at the UN Human Rights Council to address increasing violence against LGBT people. In June 2011, South Africa led a successful initiative to adopt resolution 17/19, expressing “grave concern” at violence and discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. This ACHPR resolution provides a strong footing for the African group of States at the Human Rights Council in Geneva to push for a follow-up resolution to 17/19 as a matter of priority.