In a disappointing move the 41st session of African Commission on Human Rights has not made any decision on LGBT rights in Africa. The excuse by the AC was a lack of time. However LGBT rights have been discussed over the past year at the ACHR so they have had plenty of time to think about the issue and allocate the necessary time to devote to LGBT rights. It is particularly disappointing considering the recent creation of ILGA Africa last month in Johannesburg and the subsequent 3 day conference. The ground breaking conference brought together activists from across the continent including representatives from Algeria – the first North Africans to be introduced to the Pan African community of LGBTI activists. The next session will be in November so hopefully they will find the time during that session!
On a positive note the Sexual Offences Bill was passed through the National Assembly in South Africa last week after nearly 7 years. For the LGBTI community, the Bill extends the meaning of rape making it more inclusive and non-gender specific. It is also supposed to provide for “follow up care” for survivors. As in other Constitutional safeguards in South Africa it remains to be seen whether there is a reduction in the gap between legislation and the reality on the street or whether as in the case of the LGBTI community, homophobia remains endemic putting people at risk of sexual violence assault and in some cases murder.
Nigerian Gay activist, Oludare Olutosin Toluwalase Odumuye popularly known as Erelu within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) Community died on the 20th May 2007. It was reported that he was taken ill a few weeks prior to his death. Oludare was the Director of Alliance Right Nigeria, an organization which advocated for the rights of LGBTI people in Nigeria since 1999, provided Sexual health information, Advice, Seminars and Training programme.He was also one of the central activists and a lead member of the Coalition for the Defence of the Rights of Sexual Minorities and worked hard to defend the rights of sexual minorities in the various public hearings on LGBTI issues including the Same Sex Marriage Bill. The death of Oludare comes only weeks after Cameroonian Gay activst, Roger Nowokap was killed in the recent Kenya Airways crash in Cameroon on his way to the ILGA African conference in Joburg – the death of two gay activists in such a short space of time is indeed .a great loss to the LGBTI community when there are so few who are ready to risk their lives and openly campaign for the rights of everyone.