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