24 years after its inception, the African Commission on Human and People’s rights had its 48th 0rdinary session in Banjul the Gambia on 10th November 2010. The commission was started in October 1986.
The countries under review in this session were the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar.
As is the custom, the NGO forum took place before the commission, starting 7th to 9th November 2010.
The issue of denying the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) observer status at the commission was the most contentious issue with NGOs demanding an explanation from the commission for their decision. In line with this, a demonstration by African LGBTI activists was held on 8th at the forum, this prompted the forum to give five minutes of their time for the activists to make their case. It is within this time that Fikile Vilakazi and Kasha Jacqueline asked for the continued support of the NGO forum to the LGBTI community in Africa – it should be noted that this forum has been supportive and provided space for dialogue on LGBTI issues.
Ironically some people were still asking about procreation in the context of same sex relations with someone suggesting that since LGBT issues are so un-African, they (LGBT) should be shipped to Europe where it all came from.
On the morning of November 9th 2010, there was a meeting to discuss how best the LGBTI people of Africa could benefit from the newly formed HIV/AIDS working group at the commission. This meeting was attended by Commissioner Malila who is also the focal point for Uganda at the ACHPR and is one of the three commissioners on this working group.
This working group was established to bring HIV/AIDS to the fore at the ACHPR hence we wanted to find ways of maximizing benefits to the LGBT community from this working group and it was agreed that we come up with a working paper which we will use to initiated dialogue with the commissioners and committee members on this working group.
A taskforce was formed to draft a document and work plan for dealing with the working group and a list serve was started for consultations around this document.
The NGO steering committee on 9th November 2010 decided against homophobia and homophobic attacks in response to repeated attacks from some individuals on the flour. A copy of the code of conduct of the NGO forum will now be given to every participant to ensure that participants are respectful of others and diversity.
On 10th November 2010, the 48th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights was opened by the chairperson commissioner Gansur Alapini in the presence of the attorney general of the Gambia and several government and NGO representatives from all over Africa. The NGO report was read and it twice mentioned LGBT issues.
The NGO report indicated that the NGO forum had passed a couple of resolutions which included resolutions on children, disability, death penalty, freedom of association, human rights defenders, indigenous people, torture prevention, refugees, sexual orientation, African court and the SADC tribunal.
Meddy Kagwa of the Uganda Human Rights Commission represented national Human Rights organizations but said nothing about LGBT issues.
Hon. Freddie Ruhindi represented the Ugandan government and tried rather unconvincingly to defend the government actions in different aspects.
As far as NGO statements are concerned, almost all of them stated their disappointment at the commission’s refusal to grant the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) observer status without giving any reason. It overwhelming support for LGBT people from the NGOs.
A book about LGBT issues and suffering in Cameroon was launched on 11th November 2010.
On 12th November 2010, there was a ceremony to Commemorate of 30 years of the African Charter on Human and Peoples rights which came into effect in 1970.
There after it was straight to private sessions.
From Banjul the Gambia, aluta continua.
Prepared by Dennis Wamala