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May 29, 2014

African Leaders Take Action to Support Equality

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today praised the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights for issuing a resolution calling for established protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The resolution calls for specific action to address escalating violence against Africa’s LGBT community.

“This resolution is an important step forward in the march toward equality and protection of all Africans’ human rights,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “In the wake of new legislation under consideration across the continent that would negatively impact sexual minorities, this call to action is a reminder that there are leaders throughout Africa choosing to face this challenge head on. We continue to support their efforts and call on the U.S. government to do the same.”
 
Resolution 275 was adopted during the Commission's 55th Ordinary Session that concluded this month. The resolution calls for member governments to:
  • “ensure that human rights defenders work in an enabling environment that is free of stigma, reprisals, or criminal prosecution as a result their human rights protection activities, including the rights of sexual minorities,” and 
  • “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.”
This news comes as South Africa recently became the first African nation to elect an openly gay black man to the National Assembly, as well as President Jacob Zuma’s appointment of an openly gay minister to his presidential cabinet.
 
Human Rights First continues to urge the United States to demonstrate leadership on promoting the protection of the human rights for LGBT people worldwide by taking diplomatic action to respond to anti-gay laws and working to stop passage of further discriminatory laws. As several African nations  - including Uganda and Nigeria - have recently enacted discriminatory legislation, Human Rights First’s factsheet, “African Voices for Equality,” highlights brave men and women who are taking a stand in countries where egregious intolerance and violence against LGBT people and allies persists.
 
For more information or to speak with Gaylord contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme@humanrightsfirst.org or 212-845-5269.