Global Resources

Efforts Towards LGBT Emancipation in Southern Africa

Author: Sarita Ranchod, Sonja Boezak
Publisher: Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation
Publication Date: Oct 2007
This report asks to what degree Hivos interventions in the period 1995 – 2005 contributed to Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) emancipation in southern Africa? The document finds that strategic and financial interventions have indeed contributed to shifts toward LGBT emancipation at four levels; LGBT people, society’s attitude, society’s structures and the effectiveness of Hivos – supported LGBT organisations. An overwhelming majority of personal testimonies from LGBT people reveals significantly increased senses of well-being and self-esteem; increased levels of self-confidence, useful and valued skills developed and decreased feelings of isolation. It is noted that pockets of media reportage have moved away from sensationalist coverage of LGBT issues towards more normalised, and sympathetic coverage most clearly inand , with some positive signs also noted in ,and . There have been significant changes in legal reform in favour of the rights of LGBT people in , having secured protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation in the country’s Constitution, to LGBT people now having the right to form legally binding civil unions. The effects of this legal reform on the possibilities for LGBT rights in neighbouring countries increased awareness of LGBT issues in broader human rights contexts in , , , and in the period 1995 – 2000, in . The document notes that there are initial signs towards the same inandin 2006. It is recommended that in the context of ongoing homophobia in all of the countries covered, the next step towards LGBT emancipation in southern Africa necessitates a focus on proactively shifting public attitudes from homophobic ignorance to greater social acceptance and understanding of LGBT people and their rights. This homophobia is, in many cases sanctioned by religious and political leaders’ intolerance and practised by public service providers in their refusal to follow up crimes against LGBT people, or provide health treatment to LGBT people, in contexts that recognise the human rights of all citizens on paper.