US: Council for Global Equality urges attention to LGBT African youth at White House summit

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The Council for Global Equality, a group representing international human rights activists focusing on global LGBT issues, has called on President Obama to pay “particular attention” to “the next generation” of LGBT Africans at next week’s Africa Leaders Summit.

The Council issued an open letter, Friday, ahead of the inaugural summit due to take place in Washington D.C. on 5 to 6 August. Government leaders and representatives from across Africa have been invited to discuss the theme of ‘Investing in the Next Generation’.

The Council particularly emphasised a desire for civil society voices to join the conversations held by African leaders, in the face of growing anti-gay legislation from governments across the continent.

The letter reads in part: “Unfortunately, across much of the African continent today, the contributions of LGBT communities are denied or denigrated; their relationships and organizations are criminalized; and hostile political rhetoric seeks to deny their rightful place in African society. In the face of this repression, civil society leaders are standing up and demanding full citizenship.”

It continues: “Given how some African governments deny the rights of their LGBT citizens, and the unique role that civil society plays in defending those rights, we urge you to include civil society voices in the official meeting of African leaders during the Summit.

“We welcome the opportunity for civil society to convene at a forum two days before the leadership meeting, but that forum is not an adequate substitute for civil society participation in the high-level dialogue with heads of state.”

It adds: “We are confident that with your support, and the robust contribution of civil society, the Summit will provide a unique opportunity to emphasize that LGBT and other marginalized communities suffer disproportionately from governance deficits, and that too many governments scapegoat LGBT individuals to distract public attention away from those structural failures.”

The letter concludes: “We are grateful for your leadership in recognizing the rights of LGBT individuals in this country, and for your Administration’s principled stand in support of the rights of LGBT citizens abroad. We trust you will use the opportunity of the Africa Leaders Summit to advance these commitments to human rights and human dignity for all.”

Signatories of the letter include representatives from Amnesty International, GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.