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Advocacy Responses to Law Reform Trends in Africa Felicita Hikuam ‘THERE ARE NO HOMOSEXUALS HERE’

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Presentation on theme: "Advocacy Responses to Law Reform Trends in Africa Felicita Hikuam ‘THERE ARE NO HOMOSEXUALS HERE’"— Presentation transcript:

1 Advocacy Responses to Law Reform Trends in Africa Felicita Hikuam ‘THERE ARE NO HOMOSEXUALS HERE’

2 Background 38 Countries in Africa have laws that criminalise same– sex behaviour; On May 8, 1996, South Africa became the first country in the world to enshrine lesbian and gay rights in its constitution; There is a trend to introduce new laws that criminalise same sex-behaviour or provisions for harsher sentences; Punishments range from imprisonment to death; In countries that have no specific criminal penalties for same-sex conduct, authorities have detained suspects under a variety of laws;

3 Background Arguments used to support criminalisation include: ‘homosexuality is unnatural; un-Africa; and against African culture, religion and values History shows that same-sex sexual practice has been recorded in Africa even as far as pre-colonial days; Criminal laws against homosexuality are the legacy of colonialism – not homosexuality itself; Rates among MSM and WSW are significantly higher and current HIV interventions are non- existent or not of sufficient;

4 Advocacy for Enabling Environment Need for repeal and amendment of laws prohibiting sexual acts between consenting adults in private; enforcement of anti-discrimination laws; provision of legal aid services, and promoting campaigns that address homophobia Governments should know their epidemics by ensuring surveillance; Support establishment and /or strengthening of networks of LGBTI; Call for funding of interventions targeted to the needs of LGBTI – Global Fund developments

5 Advocacy for Law Reform Time-consuming; labour intensive, politically complex and fraught with risks; Effort spent may bear little result if the law is not implemented or not accessible to those who need it; Should be based on a legal audits; Should be as much about process as content

6 Lessons learned... Need to get on the same page regarding our commitments and understanding of human rights African civil society must be at forefront of advocacy for law reform ; Much more work to be done on working with law makers, judges and law enforcers; More resources needed for access to justice; Make access easier – alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, HRC.... ; MSM and WSW should be empowered to know and claim rights; Work with media allies.

7 Case Study: Namibia Multi-stakeholder platform; Existence of a number of laws and regulations that discriminate on the basis of HIV/AIDS status and/or obstruct access to comprehensive services; Removal of all HIV/AIDS discriminatory laws, policies, regulations, guidelines and practices through: law reform; supporting an enabling environment and awareness-raising; Activities include: legal support ; legal audits and law reform programmes; “Know your rights campaigns”; human rights training; stigma and discrimination reduction programmes; programmes that focus on gender norms and eliminating GBV

8 Thank You

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