- In many African countries, gay people face persecution and violence, and even in states where gay's human rights are protected by the law, social attitudes toward homosexuality have not improved. Awareness campaigns are under way all over the continent.
In raising awareness on the rights of gay and lesbian people, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) in a statement said it had joined International Day Against Homophobia in its struggle to eliminate consequences of homophobia around the world, including Africa.
Although human rights are enshrined in the international treaties signed and ratified by government, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities have a long way to go in order to be accepted in communities. "Being lesbian or gay is risking jail time in 86 countries and death penalty in seven," says an International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) report on state-sponsored homophobia.
IGLHRC said violence against LGBTI people often goes uninvestigated and unpunished by the authorities, saying that family structures that LGBTI people form remain completely unrecognised in many parts of the world, especially in Africa. "Homophobia is a persistent and poisonous force that impedes the struggle for justice and equality for LGBTI people on every level," IGLHRC stated.
According to IGLHRC, the anti-homophobia day has a special significance this year, as it is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. "Over the past 60 years, these human rights laws have opened the door to unprecedented visibility, demands for justice, and lasting change in the status of LGBTI people in significant parts of the world," said IGLHRC.
Many European states, but also South Africa, have reformed laws to protect the rights of LGBTI people while Latin American and many other African states are challenging homophobia in the UN and international forums.
Homophobia awareness campaigns this year included smaller arrangements, also in Africa, on 17 May. Greater campaigns will be launched during the 16 Days of Activism from 25 November to 10 December, which is an international campaign spearheaded by the Centre for Women's Global Leadership, IGLHRC informs.
In Africa, IGLHRC plans to draw attention to the murders of lesbians around the continent through a poster advertisement to be placed in newspapers and circulated on the internet throughout the 16 Days of Activism. "The advertisements will demand that authorities step up to their responsibility to investigate these murders and speak out forcefully in condemning them," IGLHRC announced.
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