INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY: END VIOLENCE AGAINST GAYS

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African gay rights groups have, on International Human Rights Day, called for an end to violence and discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The day, marked on Monday, is a commemoration of the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948  of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights [UDHR].

The declaration proclaims the universality of human rights and enshrines the principles that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.

In a statement, the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (Amsher) coalition said that “it is sad to note that over six decades after the adoption of the UDHR, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex [LGBTI] persons, and other same-sex practicing and gender variant people around the world continue to be victims of discrimination and violence because of their real or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity”.

According to the 2011 annual report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “homophobic and transphobic violence has been recorded in all regions.

“Such violence may be physical [including murder, beatings, kidnappings, rape and sexual assault] or psychological [including threats, coercion and arbitrary deprivations of liberty].”

Amsher noted that the statement holds true particularly in Africa where there has been growing violence against LGBTI people, buoyed by hate speech from political, traditional and religious leaders, and abetted by law enforcement agencies and the various anti-gay legislations currently being debated by parliaments across Africa.

In addition to calling for African governments to honour their obligations under the various human rights charters and declaration, it also saluted the courage of LGBTI people and LGBTI human rights defenders in Africa and around the world “who continue to work under extremely hostile conditions to ensure that the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reality for everyone including LGBTI persons”.

Amsher went on to say: “On the occasion of the 2012 International Human Rights Day, AMSHeR specially remembers those African LGBTI persons and LGBTI human rights defenders whose murders were reported in 2012:  Thapelo Makhutle, Hassan Buba, Sihle Stotshi, Mandisa Mbambo, Maurice Mjomba, Rulov Senekal, Ahmed Ghoniem, Bruno Bronn, the unnamed Kenyan gay man lynched by a mob, and the many others who remain unnamed and whose murders remain unreported.”

Amsher represents 18 African LGBTI organisations from Burundi, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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