PRESS STATEMENT ON INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA, BIPHOBIA, INTERPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA (IDAHOBIT)
17TH MAY 2019
‘HRAPF calls on African leaders to take a stand for the justice and protection of all’
Today, Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum joins the rest of the world in celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). This Day is dedicated to raising awareness of the repression, discrimination and violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex persons around the globe. Awareness raising and sensitisation are crucial strategies to combat the fear which fuels hatred against the LGBTI minority.
The theme of IDAHOBIT for 2019 is ‘Justice and Protection for all’. LGBTI persons the world over, as well as in Africa and Uganda, face discrimination within the criminal justice system. In many African countries, same-sex sexual relations are still criminalised. LGBTI persons are also vulnerable to arrest under broad vagrancy provisions such as those criminalising ‘being idle and disorderly’ and ‘being a rogue and vagabond’. LGBTI persons also face challenges in accessing justice when their rights are violated – the courts and police are not always viewed as ‘protectors’ as they should be for the public at large. HRAPF’s legal aid clinic receives cases of human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics on a regular basis, and continues to fight for LGBT persons in Uganda to access justice and to be protected.
On this occasion of IDAHOBIT 2019, HRAPF condemns the way in which African leaders in recent months have used their influence in international and regional bodies to promote homophobia, biphobia, interphobia and transphobia.
In October 2018, Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, led a move to ban debate on the subject of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons within the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva. The very purpose of the Inter-Parliamentary Union is to work for peace and cooperation among people, and to contribute to the defence and promotion of human rights. Nevertheless, 689 of the 1188 MPs representing nations across the globe in that forum voted in favour of the ban – which muzzled the mere discussion of LGBTI rights and sends the message that LGBTI persons are not considered ‘humans’ whose human rights are to be protected by the legislators of all the nations of the world. HRAPF is disappointed that a Ugandan leader instigated this damaging decision within an international human rights body.
HRAPF furthermore condemns the decision of the African Union’s Executive Council, which is made up of mostly the Foreign Ministers of all Member States, for their decision to exert pressure on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to revoke the Observer Status of the Coalition for African Lesbians (CAL), which it granted in 2015. The Executive Council, to which the African Commission reports, expressed that the Commission ought to take into account ‘the fundamental African values, identities and good tradition,’ and on this account continued to pressurise the Commission until it withdrew CAL’s Observer Status in 2018.
HRAPF calls upon the leaders of African nations to take a stand against homophobia, biphobia, interphobia and transphobia, which terrorise LGBTI persons within their countries, and to ensure justice and protection for all.
Taking human rights to all