HRC and Human Rights First produce report into LGBT rights across Africa, ahead of White House summit

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A joint report by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Human Rights First has outlined the state of anti-gay legislation across 54 African nations, ahead of meetings between President Obama and government leaders from across the continent.

The report, entitled ‘The State of Human Rights for LGBT People in Africa’, was compiled in preparation for the Africa Leaders Summit, which is being hosted in the White House in the first week of August. Invitations have been issued to heads of state from 32 of the 37 African nations which criminalise homosexuality.

Both organisations were signatories on the open letter published last week by the Council for Global Equality, which called on the president to make LGBT issues a prominent part of the summit, and to include non-governmental African activists in the debate.

Ty Cobb, director of Global Engagement at HRC Foundation, said in a press release: “More than 800 million people live in African nations that criminalize LGBT individuals because of who they love or who they are.

“Many face near-constant threats of harassment, discrimination, prosecution and violence on a daily basis, and others remain vulnerable to increasingly dangerous and concerted efforts to enact harsh anti-LGBT legislation.

“Supporting the human rights of all Africans, including LGBT Africans, must be an important part of our nation’s engagement.”

Shawn Gaylord, of Human Rights First, added: “We know that there are thousands of people across the African continent who are standing up for an end to violence and for full equality for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“These people, activists, leaders, lawyers, religious figures and others, need to know that they have support around the world and this Summit is an ideal time to signal that support.”

The report lists 37 African nations where same-sex relationships are criminalised, four of which (marked with an asterisk) allow for the death penalty against LGBT people:

Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania*, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria*, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia*, South Sudan, Sudan*, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

This contrasts with 17 nations which do not criminalise same-sex relationships, of which only South Africa legislates for marriage equality:

Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa

The full report can be accessed from the website of either organisation.