Big news for the African LGBT community: last week, the African Commission on Human and People's Rights — founded in the 1980s — passed a resolution urging African national leaders to respect the human rights and dignity of LGBT people.
It is called Resolution 275, and the decision to pass it was made during the commission's 55th Ordinary Session. Resolution 275 acts as an outline for goals African nations should strive to achieve regarding the protection of LGBT advocates.
This comes in response to increasing instances of violence against the African LGBT community and harsh laws that enact state-sanctioned homophobia, like the "Jail the Gays" legislation in Nigeria and Uganda. Uganda passed a law earlier in the year that seeks to imprison for life anyone who has consensual same-sex relations, and seeks to penalize anyone who "intends to commit homosexuality." If that wasn't enough, this particular law also imposes on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofit organizations that work with LGBT Africans, such as those with HIV and AIDS.
"Alarmed" and "deeply disturbed" by this hate, the commission — which includes a representative from Uganda — offers their equality-based perspective on the following in Resolution 275 (see it in its entirety here):
1. Condemns the increasing incidence of violence and other human rights violations, including murder, rape, assault, arbitrary imprisonment and other forms of persecution of persons on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation or gender identity;
2. Specifically condemns the situation of systematic attacks by State and non-state actors against persons on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation or gender identity;
3. Calls on State Parties to ensure that human rights defenders work in an enabling environment that is free of stigma, reprisals or criminal prosecution as a result of their human rights protection activities, including the rights of sexual minorities; and
4. Strongly urges States to end all acts of violence and abuse, whether committed by State or non-state actors, including by enacting and effectively applying appropriate laws prohibiting and punishing all forms of violence including those targeting persons on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation or gender identities, ensuring proper investigation and diligent prosecution of perpetrators, and establishing judicial procedures responsive to the needs of victims.
Though not legally binding, African nations are expected to use Resolution 275 to create positive and safe environments for LGBT equality advocates.