The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) has rejected an application by a lesbian group for observer status.

“The ACHPR has deliberated on your application and decided not to grant Observer Status to the Coalition of African Lesbians,” said the commission’s secretary, Mary Maboreke, in a letter to the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL).

She gave no reason as to why the application, which has been pending since 2008 and has been repeatedly deferred, was finally rejected.

CAL said in a statement that it was “outraged” by the rejection.

“We find it discriminatory, unjust and unfair that our application is blatantly rejected on no grounds whatsoever since it met all the legal requirements,” said the group.

“We are tempted to treat this decision as an expression [of] homophobia on the part of the commission. It is disgusting that a human rights institution like the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights could arrive at a decision that violates the right to freedom of expression.”

CAL called on NGOs with observer status at the Commission, civil society organisations and human rights groups to denounce the decision and to call for it to be reconsidered.

In late July, the Ugandan government said that it was opposed to CAL’s application for observer status.

“The African Charter and the Constitutive Act setting up the AU tell us to protect African values among our key objectives. These [gay rights] are alien to our culture and values. We shall continue to resist and fight them because common sense dictates against them,” said Ugandan Foreign Service Officer Rosette Nyirinkindi at the time.

Founded in 2003, the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) is a network of organisations “committed to African lesbian equality and visibility”.

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