A network of Human rights organizations throughout Africa is joining forces to demand an end to the neglect and discrimination that LBTQI women continue to face.
This rallying cry comes on the heels of International Women's Day, as advocates work tirelessly to protect the rights of marginalized women across the continent.
The Pan Africa International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association’s 2022 report on The Effect of Covid-19 on LBQ Women in the SADC region uncovered shocking levels of inequality. LBQ women faced discrimination while trying to access healthcare, including services related to Covid-19, SRHR, HIV/AIDS, and HRT, the organisation said in a statement on Tuesday.
The group further states that LBQTI women are not included in most women’s rights movements in Africa, either being criminalized or not recognized as women. This erases them from some feminists and women’s rights movements in Africa, denying them the chance to benefit from the fight for equal rights for all women.
LGBQTI women continue to face violence, discrimination, and human rights abuses due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Many lesbians face sexual abuse, while bisexual women report physical attacks from male partners when their sexuality is revealed. Some have been murdered.
International Women’s Day is an opportunity to highlight such injustices and celebrate LBQTI women’s achievements.
“As a regional organization with a mandate to ensure human rights protection of LBQTI women in Africa, we are concerned about the increased call for criminalization in Africa against gender and sexual minorities. LBQTI women stand most at risk with the criminalization of LGBTIQ+ persons,” said Nate Brown, Executive Director of Pan Africa ILGA.
Barbra Wangare, Co-Chair of the PAI Board, emphasized that “All women must be respected and protected notwithstanding their different identities and orientations.”
Pan Africa ILGA calls on women’s rights movements to be inclusive and welcome LBQTI women in their spaces, while governments should include them in initiatives that guide women.
The battle for LGBTQI rights is an enduring one, as numerous individuals persist in encountering various forms of mistreatment.