|AFRICAN RIGHTS COMMISSION FACES SEXUAL ORIENTATION TEST|
|Written by Lindlyn Tamufor|
|Tuesday, 18 August 2009 15:19|
Sexual orientation was a topic of discussion among human rights lawyers during the NGO Forum preceding the 45th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights held in Banjul, The Gambia, but given cultural inhibitions can African governments guarantee the rights persons of various sexual orientations, asks *Lindlyn Tamufor.
This was not the first time that the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights had discussed the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) human rights issues. These were first introduced to the African Commission during its 39th Ordinary Session in Banjul. What was different this time is that LGBTI persons found some form of solidarity from other NGOs in the midst of vast opposition to their plight.
The three-day NGO forum (preceding the African Commission meeting) which is usually clouded with all sorts of human rights issues found space for a panel discussion on LGBTI issues. Leading the discussion were LGBTI persons who came from various parts of the continent to request of the African Commission to protect and promote the rights of LGBTI persons without any discrimination. They made it a point to define LGBTI and the gamut of relevant terms related to sexuality. The panel pointed out that society accepts heterosexuality as “normal sexuality”, thereby implying that homosexuality or bisexuality is abnormal. They also argued that that homophobia, the fear of lesbian and gay people, is irrational because the fear is based on stereotypes, misinformation and prejudice. For the majority of African LGBTI, this homophobia very often results in the experience of violence perpetrated by community members and state agents.
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