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Statement of African Social Justice Activists on the Threats of the British Government to “Cut Aid” to African Countries that Violate the Rights of LGBTI People in Africa

Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 13:22

We, the undersigned African social justice activists, working to advance societies that affirm peoples’ differences, choice and agency throughout Africa, express the following concerns about the use of aid conditionality as an incentive for increasing the protection of the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBTI) people on the continent.

Earlier this month, it was widely reported that the British Government has threatened to cut aid to governments of 'countries that persecute homosexuals' unless they stop punishing people in same-sex relationships. These threats follow similar decisions that have been taken by a number of other donor countries against countries such as Uganda and Malawi. While the intention may well be to protect the rights of LGBTI people on the continent, the decision to cut aid disregards the role of the LGBTI and broader social justice movement on the continent and creates the real risk of a serious backlash against LGBTI people.

A vibrant social justice movement within African civil society is working to ensure the visibility of - and enjoyment of rights by - LGBTI people. This movement is made up of people from all walks of life, both identifying and non-identifying as part of the LGBTI community. It has been working through a number of strategies to entrench LGBTI issues into broader civil society issues, to shift the same-sex sexuality discourse from the morality debate to a human rights debate, and to build relationships with governments for greater protection of LGBTI people. These objectives cannot be met when donor countries threaten to withhold aid.

The imposition of donor sanctions may be one way of seeking to improve the human rights situation in a country but does not, in and of itself, result in the improved protection of the rights of LGBTI people. Donor sanctions are by their nature coercive and reinforce the disproportionate power dynamics between donor countries and recipients. They are often based on assumptions about African sexualities and the needs of African LGBTI people. They disregard the agency of African civil society movements and political leadership. They also tend, as has been evidenced in Malawi, to exacerbate the environment of intolerance in which political leadership scapegoat LGBTI people for donor sanctions in an attempt to retain and reinforce national state sovereignty.

Further, the sanctions sustain the divide between the LGBTI and the broader civil society movement. In a context of general human rights violations, where women are almost as vulnerable as LGBTI people, or where health and food security are not guaranteed for anyone, singling out LGBTI issues emphasises the idea that LGBTI rights are special rights and hierarchically more important than other rights. It also supports the commonly held notion that homosexuality is ‘unAfrican’ and a western-sponsored ‘idea’ and that countries like the United Kingdom will only act when ‘their interests’ have been threatened.

An effective response to the violations of the rights of LBGTI people has to be more nuanced than the mere imposition of donor sanctions. The history of colonialism and sexuality cannot be overlooked when seeking solutions to this issue. The colonial legacy of the British Empire in the form of laws that criminalise same-sex sex continues to serve as the legal foundation for the persecution of LGBTI people throughout the Commonwealth. In seeking solutions to the multi-faceted violations facing LGBTI people across Africa, old approaches and ways of engaging our continent have to be stopped. New ways of engaging that have the protection of human rights at their core have to recognise the importance of consulting the affected.

Furthermore, aid cuts also affect LGBTI people. Aid received from donor countries is often used to fund education, health and broader development. LGBTI people are part of the social fabric, and thus part of the population that benefit from the funding. A cut in aid will have an impact on everyone, and more so on the populations that are already vulnerable and whose access to health and other services are already limited, such as LGBTI people.

To adequately address the human rights of LGBTI people in Africa, the undersigned social justice activists call on the British Government to:

  • Review its decision to cut aid to countries that do not protect LGBTI rights;
  • Expand its aid to community based and lead LGBTI programmes aimed at fostering dialogue and tolerance;
  • Support national and regional human rights mechanisms to ensure the inclusiveness of LGBTI issues in their protective and promotional mandates;
  • Support the entrenchment of LGBTI issues into broader social justice issues through the financing of community lead and nationally owned projects.

For more information contact:

Joel Gustave Nana, (French and English)
Executive Director
African Men for Sexual Health and Rights
Mobile: 0735045420
E-mail: joel@amsher.net

Hakima Abbas
Executive Director
Fahamu
Email: Hakima@fahamu.org

Wanja Muguongo
UHAI- the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative
Tel: +254(020)2330050/8127535
E-mail: wanja@uhai-eashri.org

Phumi Mtetwa
E-mail: phumi10@hotmail.com

Sibongile Ndashe
E-mail: sibongilendashe@gmail.com

Signatories

1. Organisations

ActionAid (Liberia)
African Men for Sexual Health and Rights – AMSHeR (Regional)
AIDS Legal Network (South Africa)
AIDS Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (Sub-regional)
ARC EN CIEL + (Cote d’Ivoire)
Arc en Ciel d’Afrique (Canada)
Centre for Popular Education and human Rights - CEPEHRG (Ghana)
Coalition Against Homophobia in Ghana (Ghana)
Coalition of African Lesbians- CAL (Regional)
Engender (South Africa)
Evolve (Cameroon)
Face AIDS Ghana  (Ghana)
Fahamu (Regional)
Freedom and Roam Uganda (Uganda)
Gay and Lesbian of Zimbabwe – GALZ (Zimbabwe)
Horizons Community Association (Rwanda)
House of Rainbow Fellowship – (Nigeria)
ICHANGE CI (Cote d’Ivoire)
Identity Magazine (Kenya)
IGLHRC Africa (Regional)
Ishtar MSM (Kenya)
Justice for Gay Africans (Diaspora)
LEGABIBO (Botswana)
Let Good Be Told In us (LGBTI) Nyanza and Western coalition of Kenya (Kenya)
Most at Risk Populations’ Society In Uganda (UGANDA)
Mouvement pour les Libertes Individuelles - MOLI (Burundi)
My Rights (Rwanda)
Network against violence, abuse, discrimination and stigma-Africa (Regional)
Nyanza and Western LGBTI Coalition of Kenya (Kenya)
Other Sheep Afrika (Kenya)
Outright Namibia
Pan Africa ILGA (Regional)
PEMA Kenya
Queer African Youth Center Network QAYN – (Sub-regional – West Africa)
Rainbow Candle Light (Burundi)
Reseau Camerounais des Personnes Vivant avec le VIH – Recap+ (Cameroon)
Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme (Kenya)
Si Jeunesse Savait (Democratic Republic of Congo)
South African National AIDS Council – LGBT sector
Spectrum Uganda Initiatives – (Uganda)
Stay Alive Self Help Group (Kenya)
Stop Aids In Liberia
The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIER) - Nigeria
The International Center for Advocacy on the Rights to Health -ICARH (Nigeria)
The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (South Africa)
Together for Women’s Rights ASBL (Burundi)
Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa)
Triangle Project (South Africa)
UHAI-the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative (Sub-regional -East Africa)
Vision Spring Initiatives
West African Treatment Action Group (Sub-regional – West Africa)
Women Working with Women (Kenya)
Youth Focus (Uganda)

2. Individuals

Angus Parkinson (British Citizen, Kenyan Resident)
Anne Baraza (Kenya
Anthony Adero (Kenya)
Ayesha Imam (Nigeria)
Barbra Muruga (Kenya)
Bernedette Muthien (South Africa)
Blessed B Rwomushana(Uganda)
Blessol gathoni (Kenya)
Brian Kanyemba (Zimbabwe)
Carine Geoffrion (Ghana)
Carlos Idibouo (Cote d’Ivoire)
Charles Gueboguo (Cameroon)
Chesterfield Samba (Zimbabwe)
Christian Rumu – (Burundi)
Cynthia Ndikumana (Burundi)
Cyriaque Ako (Cote d’Ivoire)
Daniel Peter Onyango (Kenya)
Daniel Peter Onyango (Kenya)
Danilo da Silva (Mozambique)
Denis Nzioka (Kenya)
Desire Kavutse (Rwanda)
Douglas Masinde (Kenya)
Esther Adhiambo(Kenya)
Francoise Mukuku (DRC)
Friedel Dausab (Namibia)
Gabrielle Le Roux (South Africa)
Gathoni Blessol (Kenya)
Geogina Adhiambi (Kenya)
Hakima Abbas (UK/Egypt)
Hameeda Deedat (South Africa)
Happy Kinyili (Kenya)
Ifeany Orazulike  (Nigeria)
Jacqueline N Mulucha (Uganda)
Jane Bennett (Cape Town)
Jayne Annot (South Africa)
Jessica Horn (Uganda/UK)
Joel Gustave Nana – (Cameroon)
Johanna Kehler (South Africa)
Joseph Sewedo Akoro (Nigeria)
Julius Kaggwa (Uganda)
Julius Kyaruzi (Tanzania)
Kamariza Sandrine (Burundi)
Kasha Jacqueline (Uganda)
Keguro Macharia (Kenya)
Kene Esom (Nigeria)
Korto Williams – Liberia
Lillian Kwagala (Uganda)
Linda Baumann (Namibia)
Lourence Misedah (Kenya)
Mariam Armisen (Burkina Faso)
Marieme Helie-Lucas (Algeria)
Mia Nikasimo (African Diaspora)
Mmapaseka Steve Letsike (South Africa)
Mombo Ngua (Kenya)
Mwangi Forsyth-Githahu (Kenya)
Ndifuna Ukwazi (South Africa)
Ndikumana Pierre Celestin (Rwanda)
Ngozi Nwosu – Juba (Nigeria)
Nguru Karugu (Kenya)
Nicholas Mutisya Muema (Kenya)
Nicole Khanali (Kenya)
Olivier Irogo (Cameroon)
Paden Edmund (Tanzania)
Peter Wanyama (Kenya)
Phumi Mtetwa (South Africa)
Pouline kimani,Udada kenya
Prof J Oloka-Onyango (Uganda)
Prof Sylvia Tamale (Uganda)
Rena Otieno (Kenya)
Rowland Jide Macaulay (Nigeria)
Samuel Ganafa (Uganda)
Samuel Matsikure (Zimbabwe)
Sandrine Kamariza (Burundi)
Sibongile Ndashe (South Africa)
Sokari Ekine (Nigeria)
Solomon Wambua
Sserwanga James (Uganda)
Stanley Muiga Wangari (Kenya)
Steave Nemande (Cameroon)
Stephen McGill (Liberia)
Thomas Mukasa (Uganda)
Tony Gatore (Burundi)
Wanja Muguongo  (Kenya)
Wendy Isaack (South Africa)
Zawadi Nyong’o (Kenya)
Zeitun Mohamed Haret

For more about the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights, refer to www.amsher.net.

To view other NGO press releases, refer to www.ngopulse.org/group/home-page/pressreleases.

Date published: 
03/11/2011
Organisation: 
African Men for Sexual Health and Rights