lgbt rights in africa

LGBT activists arrive to attend a court hearing in the Milimani high Court in Nairobi on February 2019. Photo: SIMON MAINA / AFP

The state of LGBTI+ rights across Africa

The rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex (LGBTI+) African citizens are somewhat murky, depending on the country you live in. Whether it’s life imprisonment, public humiliation and flagellation, or murder – not being “straight” makes the world a tricky place to navigate.

lgbt rights in africa

LGBT activists arrive to attend a court hearing in the Milimani high Court in Nairobi on February 2019. Photo: SIMON MAINA / AFP

The acceptance of sexual minorities in Africa is gaining traction, with countries like Botswana and Kenya trying to reform biased laws. However, the homophobic rhetoric in Africa is still going strong.

Botswana is hearing arguments for the abandonment of anti-gay, and sexual orientation-based discrimination on 14 March, in the Gaborone High Court. But, this is not the first time this year an African country has walked this path. In late February, Kenya decided to postpone their decision after a similar hearing. And countries like Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania aren’t helping.

Kenya’s High Court delays anti-gay sex law

The decision to overturn the anti-gay sex laws set out in Kenya’s penal code has been postponed to 24 May 2019. Petitioners took to court, stating Kenya’s updated 2010 constitution protects them from discrimination against sexual orientation.

And while activists were hopeful – due to the recent banning of forced anal testing of men thought to be gay –  the High Court ultimately decided to delay the decision to May. This was due to an apparent high workload, and an absentee on the judge’s bench.

Banning of Pride in Nigeria

Pride is an integral part of the LGBTI+ community. It’s hard to forget your first Pride march, surrounded by your peers and allies, encompassed in support and love. Pride is an event of unification, and resilience.

Yet, last year the Nigerian province of Benue decided to draft a Bill  which not only criminalises same-sex marriages, but also same-sex public associations. Meaning, not only would the LGBTI+ people of Nigeria would be devoid of Pride, their movements would be restricted, their acquaintances under scrutiny, and their public life in disarray.

This is not surprising for Nigeria, as former president Goodluck Jonathan signed into law a Bill which criminalised same-sex civil unions, a gross discrimination against the LGBTI+ people.

Tanzania’s anti-gay task force:

In a modern retelling of McCarthyism, Tanzanian’s are being asked to report suspected gay citizens to the authority. In a recent YouTube video, the City Head of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania’s capital city), Paul Makonda has called for the people of Tanzania to unite against homosexuality.

With a recently established task force, created to target the LGBTI+ community in Tanzania, Makonda hopes his team of legal officers will introduce lengthy prison sentences for those daring to differ from heteronormativity.

Ghana’s conversion therapy camps

The National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values (NCPHSRFV), an organisation in Ghana set to ‘cure’ homosexual community members of their indulgences, has been gathering a large support group in Ghana.

The leader of the Coalition, Moses Foh-Amoaning, believes homosexuality is deviance caused by a combination of hormonal imbalances, and economic and peer pressure. Foh-Amoaning went on to say with the right surgical team, and Christian ministry, the ‘cure’ to homosexuality is in hand.

So, if you’re thinking of taking a gaycation in the future, make sure to leave these countries out of your itiniary.

More to follow on Botswana’s High Court ruling.