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  • Human Rights Research Center

LGBTQ Rights Nonexistent Across Most of Africa

September 1, 2023

A member of the LGBTQ community prays during an evangelical church service on April 23 in Kampala, Uganda, where one of the strictest anti-LGBTQ laws in the world threatens people with life in prison for same-sex relations and even the death penalty in some cases. [Image credit: Luke Dray/Getty Images]

Cited article by Nick Logan

HRRC joins human rights organizations and activists in calling attention to the chilling effects of harsh laws criminalizing same-sex relations across Africa. HRRC emphasizes the need for urgent international intervention to protect the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ individuals, and to address these repressive laws within the broader context of human rights and socio-political challenges.

News Brief

Recent crackdowns targeting LGBTQ individuals in parts of Africa under laws that criminalize their existence have raised concerns among human rights groups. Nigeria and Uganda, among the 32 out of 54 African nations that outlaw same-sex relationships, have some of the harshest anti-LGBTQ laws globally. Early Monday morning, Nigerian police arrested over 60 people in a raid on an apparent same-sex wedding, while Ugandan authorities are for the first time charging a man with "aggravated homosexuality," a crime potentially punishable by death. These laws, in addition to criminal penalties, profoundly affect the daily lives of LGBTQ individuals. Activists argue that such legislation, exemplified by Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act, not only threatens severe punishments but also fosters a dangerous atmosphere for LGBTQ individuals. While progress on LGBTQ rights has been made in some African countries, a new wave of restrictive laws is emerging, linked to increased awareness and visibility of LGBTQ communities.

The impact of these draconian laws extends beyond legal consequences, as they also serve as tools for distraction and political maneuvering. In Uganda, for instance, the Anti-Homosexuality Act has been effectively used to divert attention from issues such as political failures and economic challenges, while simultaneously reinforcing the government's repressive agenda. This wave of harsh legislation not only oppresses LGBTQ individuals but also sheds light on the broader socio-political landscape in Africa, where progress in LGBTQ rights coexists with these concerns. As African countries grapple with these complex dynamics, international attention and advocacy remain crucial to safeguarding the rights and safety of LGBTQ communities across the continent.

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