On 23rd November 2023, the Centre hosted a conference on sexual and gender minority rights in Africa, under the theme of decriminalising anti-sodomy laws in a hostile environment. This Conference falls within the broader work of the Centre to advance sexual and reproductive rights in Africa, including those of sexual and gender minorities. The Conference was held in a hybrid format and brought together academics, researchers, legal practitioners, activists, religious leaders and students from across the continent.

In her opening remarks, acting Director of the Centre, Prof. Nkatha Murungi, noted the ongoing and emerging challenges to sexual and gender minority rights in Africa, in particular the adoption of repressive laws in some parts of the continent, and a rise of the anti-rights movement which threatens prospects for decriminalisation of anti-sodomy laws. The keynote address, which was delivered by Graeme Reid, the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, reiterated the importance of the decriminalisation of consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults as a step towards creating a less hostile legal and social environment for the protection of the rights of sexual and gender minorities in Africa.

Papers presented at the Conference covered a range of topics including decriminalisation of anti-sodomy laws in country contexts such as Uganda and Ghana, mobilising parliamentary and religious leaders towards decriminalisation, strategies for decriminalisation in a hostile environment through the use of empirical evidence and technology, comparative perspectives for decriminalisation by drawing lesson from countries such as Botswana and Mauritius, and regional perspectives on sexual and gender minority rights in Africa highlighting challenges in the African human rights system. The vibrant and critical engagement of the participants fostered a multi-disciplinary discourse on pathways to decriminalisation of anti-sodomy laws in Africa in the prevailing hostile environment.

Selected papers from the  conference will be published as an edited book on decriminalisation of anti-sodomy laws in Africa.

The Conference was financially supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).


For more information contact:

Landilani Banda
Acting Project Manager: SOGIESC Unit

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 4397

Mx Chanel van der Linde
Project Officer: SOGIESC Unit

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 3151


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