African LGBT activists seek international support

Published: December 10, 2013

NEW YORK — African LGBT activists on Monday called upon the international community to do more to support the continent’s gay rights movement.

 
Friedel Dausab, a Namibian HIV/AIDS advocate, said during a briefing in lower Manhattan that the U.S. and other governments can create spaces where LGBT rights activists “can actually come and speak to our own governments.” Gift Trapence, executive director of the Centre for the Development of People in Malawi, added embassies should engage with local advocates on the ground.
 
“They need to get the information from the people on the ground so they’re informed,” said Trapence.
 
Activists from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Zambia also took part in the briefing the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission held a day before the 65th anniversary of the U.N. General Assembly’s ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
 
They urged the U.S. and other countries to hold African governments more accountable for ongoing LGBT rights abuses.
 
British Prime Minister David Cameron in 2011 said his government would consider withholding foreign aid to commonwealth countries that ban homosexuality. President Obama in the same year announced the administration would consider a country’s LGBT rights record in the allocation of foreign aid.
 
“We’re not asking the U.K. or foreign governments to cut aid to Africa,” said Juliet Mphande, executive director of Rainka Zambia, during the IGLHRC briefing. “LGBTI individuals are also Africans, so ultimately we all benefit from that aid.”
 
Mphande said the U.K. and other European nations should instead begin to address the lingering effects of colonialism that brought anti-sodomy laws into African countries. These include Namibia’s law against homosexuality that has been on the books since 1927.
 
“What the conversation we need to start having is how the U.K. and foreign governments can start cleaning up their own mess,” said Mphande. “These penal 
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