Unequal Justice Report HR

New Report Sheds Light on the Violence Suffered by LGBTIQ+ People in Africa and the Accountability Gap

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A new REDRESS report, UNEQUAL JUSTICE: Accountability for Torture Against LGBTIQ+ Persons in Africa, sheds light on the violence and torture suffered by LGBTIQ+ people in Africa and the challenges that victims face to secure accountability for these crimes. 

The report examines the situation in 11 countries in Africa – Algeria, Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Uganda, and South Africa – but the findings of the research are equally applicable to other contexts in Africa.  

While discriminatory violence can and often does amount to torture or other ill-treatment, the report finds that States often fail to confront/treat it as such. Many States in Africa afford little to no legal protection to LGBTIQ+ persons, whilst others criminalise same-sex conduct and fail to recognise the full spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities. In recent years, there has also been a resurgence in legislation which targets, rather than protects, LGBTIQ+ persons. This has resulted in an increase in violence against LGBTI+ persons, while impunity remains the norm. 

The report, which has a foreword by the UN Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, Víctor Madrigal-Borloz, outlines specific proposals to States, African human rights bodies, and civil society to improve the current situation, including:  

  • Amend national legislation so it meets international standards for the protection of LGBTIQ+ persons, including to criminalise torture, and adopt anti-discriminatory laws that criminalize hate speech and prohibit forced medical treatment such as conversion therapy practice and forced anal examinations.  
  • Develop guidelines for the effective investigation of LGBTIQ+ violence and train key officials, including those in law enforcement, on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.  
  • Create a specialised body to focus on LGBTIQ+ violence, as recommended by Resolution 275 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on Protection against Violence and other Human Rights Violations against Persons on the basis of their real or imputed Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.  
  • Promote accountability at the national level for LGBTIQ+ violence through public information campaigns on LGBTIQ+ issues and by increasing the capacity of the LGBTIQ+ community to address suchviolence.  

The full report and recommendations are available here.  

For queries on the report, please contact [email protected]. 

REDRESS would like to thank our partners Allen & Overy LLP for their support during the drafting and editing process, and Access Chapter 2 in South Africa, the Centre for the Development of People in Malawi, the National Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission in Kenya and Sexual Minorities Uganda in Uganda, and all other experts involved, for their assistance in developing the report. 

Cover photo credit: Robin Hammond/Panos Pictures.