International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

In honour of the international day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia, the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law (a centre of the University of Johannesburg) invites you to an online panel discussion titled ‘The Law and LGBTQ Rights in Africa.’  A fuller description of the focus of the panel is included below.  The practical details are as follows:

Date:             18 May 2022

Time:           17h30 (South African time – GMT plus 2)

Venue:         Zoom Meeting

RSVP: Please RSVP to in order to receive the link to the seminar and to join on Zoom.

Around the world, the law was historically used as a tool of oppression against LGBTQ people, and it is only in recent times that legal reform has focused on the full realisation and protection of LGBTQ rights.  This process of reform and development has unfolded in a somewhat turbulent fashion across different African countries which, in many instances, must overcome inherited discriminatory colonial laws, leaders that seek to scapegoat LGBTQ people as well as resistance to reform from conservative religious groupings and some traditional leaders.  In some cases, the need to protect the fundamental rights of LGBTQ people is slowly being realised, starting often with processes of decriminalisation and then proceeding to the wider recognition of LGBTQ rights.  However, in others, activists, lawyers and LGBTQ people still face significant resistance to legal and societal reform, in some instances through the introduction and enforcement of regressive and repressive laws.  There are also differences in protection that arise between approaches to sexual orientation and gender identity.

LGBTQ rights are fundamental human rights, yet their realisation is occurring unevenly across different African countries, some of which remain unsafe for LGBTQ people.  This seminar will seek to investigate the following questions:

  • How have legal developments impacted the realisation and protection of LGBTQ rights in various countries on the African continent?
  • What are the societal drivers that inhibit the realisation of LGBTQ rights in Africa?
  • What are the societal drivers that can help advance LGBTQ rights in Africa?
  • What is the relationship between the legal approach to LGBTQ rights and the lived experiences of LGBTQ people in different African countries?
  • Are there any helpful lessons that can be learned from countries with more progressive attitudes and laws towards LGBTQ rights?
  • What are some of the specific challenges that are still impeding the realisation of LGBTQ rights in Africa?
  • What are some of the solutions for overcoming these challenges?

Panelists: Dr Edwin Coleman (University of Johannesburg); Prof Melanie Judge (University of Cape Town); Geoffrey Ogwaro (Community of Action Facilitator – Uganda; HIVOS Free to be Me).

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