The Centre for Human Rights works for the improvement of the human rights of minorities - including sexual minorities - and other disadvantaged or marginalised persons or groups across the continent.
Funded by the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Pretoria, the Centre's SOGIE Unit focuses on education, capacity-building, advocacy and legal aid in the area of LGBTI rights and anti-discrimination. This poster highlights great Africans who identify as LGBTI persons, who are leaders in their field, and whose work contributes to the realisation of sexual minority rights in Africa.
The SOGIESC Unit also developed a poster on South African LGBTI icons. (Available here)
Biographies of African LGBTI icons
- Brenda Fassie
Her full name is Brenda Nokuzola Fassie (also known as MaBrrr, ‘Queen of African Pop’, ‘Madonna of the Townships’). Brenda was born on 3 November 1964. She died on 9 May 2004. She was an anti-apartheid pop singer. For one of her famous songs, “Vul’indlela”, 1999 she was awarded the Continental Kora Awards for best female artist. That same song was awarded Song of the Decade at the South African Music Awards in 2004.
- Reverend Jide Macaulay
Christian theologian and author
British-Nigerian born in 1965 in London, a Christian minister since 1998, a dynamic and an inspirational speaker, author, poet, pastor and preacher, holds a degree in Law, master’s degree in Theology and Post-graduate certificate in Pastoral Theology. Jide focuses his ministry on inclusion and reconciliation of sexuality, spirituality and human rights. He writes for various Christian and secular Journals. He has authored three books, Poetry Inspired 2001, I Say A little Prayer For You and Pocket Devotion for LGBT Christians 2005, he has won several awards including the 2003 and 2007 Black LGBT Community Award for "Man of the Year" for his work helping people of faith. Shortlisted for the National Diversity Awards 2014, in the category for Positive Role Model, and winner 2014 NAZ MSM Award. He served from 2007 to 2013 as Executive Board member and Co Chair of Pan Africa International Lesbians and Gay Association
- Zanele Muholi
Photographer and visual artist
Zanele was born in 1972 in Durban South Africa. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Documentary Media from Ryerson University in Toronto. Her thesis covered the visual history of black lesbian identity and politics in post-apartheid South Africa. In 2003, Zanele completed an advanced photography course at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg. In 2004, she launched her visual activism through her first solo exhibition on Visual sexuality:Only half the picture’ at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Zanele is well known for being the photographer and reporter for ‘Behind the mask’, a South African based online magazine addressing LGBTI concerns in Africa. In 2013, she was honorary professor of video and videography at the University of the Arts Gallery in Germany. In 2016, Zanele was the recipient of an Annual Infinity Award from New York’s International Centre of Photography. In 2016, she was named among the 100 most powerful artists in the world by Art Review, Asia.
- Justin Fashanu
His full name is Justinus Soni Fashanu. Justin was the world’s first openly gay professional soccer player He was born in February 1961. He played football professionally for many English clubs between 1978-1997. Justin was a sensational hit. He was the world’s first one million pounds black footballer. In 1998, while residing in the United States he was charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy. Subsequently, Justin fled to the United Kingdom where he hung himself in an abandoned garage in May 1998. As was in his suicide note , he feared he would receive an unjust trial on the basis of his sexual orientation. He denied the sexual assault allegation. Justin’s last words, in a suicide note, were ‘I hope the Jesus I love welcomes me home.’ He died at the age of 37.
- Unoma Azuah
Unoma Azuah was born on July 1969 in Delta State Nigeria during the Nigerian Civil War. Unoma teaches writing at the Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago. Her research and activism focus on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights in Nigeria. Recently, she concluded a book project on the lives of gay Nigerians entitled, Blessed Body: Secret Lives of LGBT Nigerians. Her critical essays include, “The Video Closet: Nollywood’s Gay-Themed Movies,” published in Transition 106. 2012, University of Indiana Press, “Same-Sex Sexuality Issues in Some African Popular Media,” Canadian Journal of African Studies, Vol. 43. No.1, University of Alberta Press, Canada, 2009 and “Celebrating Area Scatter, the drag Queen that Transgressed Gender Roles in South-East Nigeria.” Reclaiming Afrikan: Queer Perspectives on Sexual and Gender Identities edited by Zethu Matebeni, Modjaji Books, South Africa 2014. In 2011 she was listed as one of the top professors at small private colleges in the United States in the online publication, Affordable/Private Colleges and Universities in the United States. Additionally, she is recognized by The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education under the topic, "Honors for Four Black Educators." A prolific author and a speaker, Azuah has been a guest lecturer at such institutions as Queens University in Kingston, Canada; Maynooth University, in Ireland; and State University of New York (SUNY) in Oneonta. Her writing awards include the Hellman/Hammett Award; the Urban Spectrum Award for her debut novel, Sky-high Flames; and the Snyder-Aidoo Book Award for her novel, Edible Bones. Her undergraduate degree in English is from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She has an MA in English from Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA.
- Rotimi Fani Kayode
Photographer and visual activist
His full name was Oluwarotimi Adebiyi Wahab Fani-Kayode. Rotimi was born on 20 April 1955 in Lagos. He fled to Brighton, England in 1966 to escape the Nigerian Civil War. He studied Fine Art and Economics at Georgetown University, Washington DC for his BA and MFA in fine arts and photography at the Pratt Institute In New York City. Rotimi challenged the invisibility of African Queerness of denial of alternative African sexuality. He was a major influence on young black photographers in the late 80s and 90s. Rotimi was the first chair and co-founder of Association of Black Photographers. In 2003 his work featured in the African Pavilion at the 50 Venice Biennale Italy and in 2011 in ARS II Kiasma-Museum of Contemporary. Art in Helsinki. He is arguable the first known African photographer to address queer and same-sex desire in the 80s. He died of a heart attack on December 1989. His work has been featured in many exhibitions and retrospectives. His work has been exhibited in the United Kingdom, France, Austria, Italy, Nigeria, Sweden, Germany, South Africa and US.
- Ecclesia De Lange
Born in South Africa, October 1969.She is a former Methodist minister. In 2010, following Ecclesia announcing her intended marriage to her same-sex partner, she was suspended and discontinued from being an active minister of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. The matter was first handled by an internal arbitration panel. They couldn’t reach an arbitration agreement. Where after an agreement was signed on behalf of Ecclesia. She was dissatisfied with this process and sought relief from the Western Cape High Court. She contended that the MCSA’s arbitration process is unjust and that she had been unfairly discriminated against. This was unsuccessful.
Ecclesia appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal and to the Constitutional Court of Southern Africa. In both cases the ruling of the High Court was upheld. Making it clear that civil courts are reluctant to get involved in Church processes and what was perceived to be church doctrine. No ruling was made w.r.t. the merits of the case. The matter was referred back to the arbitration process of the Church. She was advised should she be dissatisfied with the outcome of the arbitration, to refer the matter to the Equality Court.
Eventually 6 May 2017 the arbitration was concluded and the award was made in favour of the Church on 6 June 2017. Ecclesia waved her rights to contest the matter in the Equality court. She is currently seeking alternative means to find reconciliation and healing for LGBTI people of faith within the Methodist Church.
At present she is passionately involved with LGBTI rights activism in Southern Africa. Ecclesia is the director of Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM). A faith based non-profit organisation that acts as a catalyst, within the religious sector, in African countries, providing expertise to faith based organisations/institutions to promote full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people.
- Eric Ohena Lembembe
Eric was born in 1980 in Cameroon. He was a trained journalist. He was a vibrant LGBTI rights activist. He was the Executive Director of the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS(CAMFAID). On behalf of CAMFAID, he collaborated closely with Human Rights Watch. Eric was a contributor to the blog ‘Erasing 76 Crimes’. He contributed several chapters to the book ‘From Wrongs to Gay Rights’ on LGBTI rights around the world.
He was found murdered in his home in Yaounde, Cameroon on 15 July, 2013 after being tortured.
- Olumide Makanjuola
The Initiative for Equal Rights
Olumide was born in Nigeria. In 2016, he received the Queens Young Leaders Award at the Buckingham Palace from her Majesty the Queen. He is an alumnus of International Visitor Leadership programme and associate fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society. Olumide engages in policy makers on sexual health and human rights focusing on the LGBTI community and various human rights violations towards SOGIE. Olumide and his team started using pop culture and new media to highlight the reality of the LGBTI community to change the narratives around LGBTI. He holds a degree in business management and is currently studying for his master’s degree in strategic Project Management. Olumide is engaged in national, regional and international level conversation and advocacy on sexual health and right its relation to broader human rights work
- Edwin Cameron
Constitutional Court Judge
Edwin was born on 15 February 1953 in Pretoria South Africa. Edwin is a judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Edwin is an HIV/AIDS and gay rights activist. Edwin received the Anglo-American Corporation Open Scholarship Award for his studies at Stellenbosch University where he earned a BA law degree and an honours degree in latin- both cum laude. As a Rhodes scholar, he attended Oxford University where he earned a BA in jurisprudence with a first class honours; the Bachelor of Civil Law with first class honours and the Vinerian Scholarship. He later earned his LLB from the University of South Africa with cumlaude and was awarded the Johannes Voet Medallion for Best Law Graduate. While at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), he drafted the Charter of Rights on AIDS and HIV, and co-founded the AIDS Consortium (a national association of non-governmental organisations). His work and activism was influential in securing the inclusion of sexual orientation in the South African Constitution. Edwin is an author with two books to his credit: Witness to Aids and Justice: A personal account. He has been the recipient of several awards including the Nelson Mandela Awards for Health and Human Rights, and Transnet’s HIV/AIDS Champion Award among others.
- Simon Nkoli
Gay & Lesbian Organisation of Wits
Simon was born 26 November 1957 in Soweto, South Africa. He died on 30 November 1998. He was an anti-apartheid gay rights and HIV/AIDS activist. In 1983, Simon joined the Gay Association of South Africa, where he formed the Saturday Group, the first black gay group in Africa. He was one of the Delma 22, the twenty two political leaders in the Delmas Treason Trial who were faced with death penalty for treason in 1984. He came out as gay while in prison and helped change the mindset of the African National Congress to gay rights. Simon founded the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand (GLOW) in 1988. Along with LGBT activist, Beverly Palesa Ditsie, he organised the first pride parade in South Africa in 1990. He represented the African region at the International and Gay Association board. He widely campaigned for the inclusion of protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the Bill of Rights in the 1994 South African Constitution and for the repeal of the sodomy law. In 1996, he was the recipient of the Stonewall Award in the Royal Albert Hall in London. Several film, documentaries and plays have been made about his life such as A moffie called Simon(1967); Your loving Simon (2003); Simon & I (2002); and Fig Trees (2009).
- Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera
Freedom & Roam Uganda
Jacqueline was born in 1980. She was the former Executive Director, Freedom and Roam. In 2010, her name and address were published alongside others including David Kato in the Ugandan ‘Rolling Stone’ tabloid calling for their execution. They both sued the tabloid. In 2010, Jacqueline the first lesbian bar, Sappho Islands in Kampala. It closed in 2011. Kasha is the founder of Uganda Pride 2012. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law. She is the Chief Executive Officer of Kuchu Times and Bombastic Magazine. She is a recipient of the 2011 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders Alternative Nobel Peace Prize 2015. Listed in collaboration of 100 years of the International Women’s Day 2011. Velvet Park Magazine voted her as the most inspiring queer woman in the world in 2010
- Diriye Osman
Somalia/ Great Britain
Author, essayist, critic and visual artist
Diriye was born in 1983 in Mogadishu, Somalia. He was raised in Nairobi, Kenya and London. A graduate of the Royal Holloway, University of London MA creative writing course, he is the author of Fairytales for Lost Children, which was awarded the Polari Best First Book Prize in 2014. Diriye was hailed as one of the top ten LGBT writers to watch by Dazed and Confused, and in 2015 The Guardian praised his short story, "If I Were a Dance" as one of the best representations of LGBT sex in literature. In the same year, Diriye was named one of the most influential LGBTI people in Britain by the Independent on Sunday. He is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and currently resides in London
- David Kato Kisule
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG)
He was born in 1964 to the Kisule clan in the Nakawala, Namatab Town Council, Mukono District. David was a teacher and LGBTI rights activist .He taught at the Nile Vocational Institute in Njeru were he because aware of his sexual orientation and was subsequently dismissed without benefits in 1991.He was a teacher at various other schools including St Hermon Nkoni Boys Primary School in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Masaka. David quit this job in 2010 to focus on his work with Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and the campaign against Uganda’s Anti-homosexuality Bill. He was one of the founding members and Advocacy Officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). He was awarded a one year fellowship at the Centre for Applied Human Rights based at the University of York, UK. In October 2010, his name and address and that of 99 others were published under the headline ‘HANG THEM’ with a demand for their execution, by Rolling Stone, a Ugandan tabloid newspaper. David and two other members of SMUG who were also listed in the article sued the newspaper to put a stop to the publishing of names and pictures of people believed to be gay or lesbian. The court ordered the newspaper to pay Kato and the two other plaintiff’s 1.5 million Ugandan shillings each. He was murdered in 2011 following his victory that law suit. There is a documentary film on David’s life titled Call me Kuchu.
- Danilo Da Silva Mussagy
Danilo was born in 1980 at Quelimane , Zambezia, Mozambique. He academic background is in civil engineering. His LGBTI activism was launched with his active article was stated ; ‘Let’s Talk’.
‘’Let’s talk! About homosexuality. About what everybody does, but doesn’t talk about what we all know but we pretend that we don’t …About what ‘’wise’’ we say we don’t have here. That is imported. Let’s talk about homosexuality here in our land. I challenge you to talk openly… Archangel.He is founding member and the Executive Director of LAMBDA The first LBTI organisation in Mozambique.
- Davis Mac-Iyalla
Author and interfaith preacher
Davis Born in 1972 on Port Harcourt Nigeria. In 2013 he was relieved from his position at the Anglican Children school in Port Harcourt on the grounds of his sexual orientation. In 2005, he established the Nigerian branch of the British Changing Attitude which advocates for the inclusion of sexual minorities in the Anglican church. Davis presently resides in the UK where he has obtained refugee status. He was part of the first openly LGBTI organisation in Nigeria, Alliance Rights. In 2014 he released autobiography FIYABO (Literally meaning favour). In February 2008, he received the Bishop Desmond Tutu Award for Human Rights and Social Justice from the world Pride and Power Organisation. He is a licenced lay minister and presently works on interfaith approaches to LGBTI promotion of the LGBTI concerns. He is currently based in London
- Joel Gustave Nana Ngongang
Partners for Rights and Development
Joel was born in 1982. He had an LLM in International Human Rights Law from the University of Western Cape, and was working towards his LLD when he died. Joel was a leading African LGBT human rights advocate and HIV/AIDS activist. He was the founding Executive Director of the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights(AMSHeR) an African based LGBT/MSM organisation working to address the vulnerability of MSM to HIV. At various times, he also worked at other national and international organisations such as the Africa Research and Policy Associate at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission(IGLHRC). He was a Fellow at Behind the Mask, a Johannesburg-based non-profit media organisation publishing a news website on lesbian and gay HIV concerns in Africa. During this time, he wrote many articles on the subject.
- FannyAnn Viola Eddy
Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association
FannyAnn was born in 1974. In 2002 she founded the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association, the first association addressing the issues of LGBTI in Sierra Leone. In April 2004, she advocated for the passing of the Brazilian Resolution (which addresses the violation of human rights of persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation and calling on states to fulfil their obligations in this regard) at the United Nations, Geneva
On 29 September 2004, she was ganged raped and stabbed to death.
- Jude Dibia
Jude was born on 5 January 1975 in Lagos, Nigeria. He holds a Diploma in Art from the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos; Bachelor of Arts in Modern European Language (German). While an undergraduate student, he founded the campus magazine ‘WHAT’. He is a novelist and short-story writer with three novels to his name: Walking With Shadows(2005); Unbridled(2007) and Blackbird(2011). His novel Walking With Shadows was the first Nigerian novel to have a gay protagonist. Jude had a flourishing career in aviation at Lufthansa German Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic Airways. Jude left Nigeria on a self-imposed exile in 2014 following the enactment of the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act 2014. Between 2014 and 2015 Jude lived in Richmond, Texas and Natick, Massachusetts before settling in Malmö, Sweden. Jude has continued to write and make his voice heard in Sweden taking part in various forums and conferences that tackle the continued need for the respect of the human rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ persons and a better understanding of LGBTQ+ persons.
- Dare Odumuye(aka Erelu)
Alliance Rights Nigeria
Dare was born 1966 in Nigeria. He died on 20th May 2007. He was the sole founder and the late President of Alliance Right Nigeria, an organisation which catered for the rights of LGBTI persons in Nigeria since 1999 by providing sexual health information, advice, seminars and training programme.He was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004. His campaign brought homosexuality into public consciousness in order to push for the recognition of human rights of queer communities in the whole of West Africa. During his work, he recruited sexual and gender minorities into programmes for HIV prevention and connected them to supportive counselling programs. This programs also catered for adolescents and university students. In 2003, he founded the West African Gay and Lesbian Association at the Annual Alliance Rights Convention in Ibadan, Nigeria. The vision of this association was to draw informal networks of sexual minorities, now local and secretive, into region-wide campaigns for pride and rights.
- Sharon Khumalo
Blogger, tutor and model
Sharon-Rose was born in Mamelodi. She is a BSc Biotechnology graduate. Sharon is also a pharmaceutical sales rep former model, blogger. She is the reigning Miss Mamelodi Sundowns 2017. In 2016, she was a finalist in the Miss South Africa Pageant. She is a football club ambassador. she is openly intersex and uses her platform of beauty pageants to raise awareness of intersex issues.'
- Ifeanyi Orazulike
International Centre for Advocacy on Rights to Health
Ifeanyi was born in Nigeria. Ifeanyi has a degree in Human Rights from the Columbia University in New York, USA. He has a diploma in International Law and Advocacy. He was a project manager at Alliance Rights, Nigeria. Ifeanyi is presently the Executive Director of the International Centre for Advocacy on the Rights to Health. In October 2014, his office was raided by state police without a warrant. He was arrested and detained for hours. Following this, he took the Nigerian Government to court for the violation of his human rights. In 2016, the Abuja Federal High Court ruled that the police violated his rights by unlawfully arresting him and awarded him one million naira in compensation.
- Eudy Simelane
South Africa (RIP)
Eudy was born in 11 March 1971 in South Africa. She was a South African footballer. She played for the South Africa Women national football team. She was also an LGBTI rights activist. On 28TH April 2008 her corpse was discovered in a creek in Kwa Thema. She had been brutally assaulted, raped and stabbed 25 times in the face, chest and legs. In 2009 a miniature bridge was erected in Kwa Thema Springs, Gauteng in her honour.
- Rashidi Williams
Queer Alliance Nigeria
He was born in Nigeria. William completed a Civic Leadership Course at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley as part of Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leadersa. Rashidi holds the equivalent of a degree in Science Laboratory Technology from Accra Polytechnic, Ghana and a Bachelors in Applied Psychology from Anglia Ruskin University, U.K. In addition to his formal education, Rashidi participated in the International Human Rights and LGBT by Swedish Federation for Sexuality Education, a Certificate in Gender, Masculinities and Leadership from the University of Cape Town, Women’s Health Research in collaboration with Sonke Gender Justice Network. He is also an alumnus of the International Human Rights Training Programme, Canada and Carrington Youth Fellowship Initiative, United States Consulate in Lagos. He is a social entrepreneur and HIV and sexual health educator and LGBTI rights activist. He is the founder and director of Queer Alliance Nigeria. Queer Alliance Nigeria is a youth led human rights and health advocacy organisation for Nigerian citizens marginalised on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identityRashidi is currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in Public Health.
- Anastacia Tomson
Medical doctor and author
Anastacia was born in South Africa. She is a trained medical doctor from the University of Pretoria. She has worked as general practitioner in the public and private sectors. Her activism is focused on the visibility and understanding of transgender issues and gender non-conforming rights. In May 2016 she released a published memoir. Always Anastacia-A Transgender life in South Africa that discuss the unique challenge faced by trans people.
- Bisi Alimi
Bisi Alimi Foundation
His Full names is Ademola Iyandade Ojo Kazeem Alimi. Bisi was born in January 1975, in Lagos, Nigeria. He is a public speaker, blog writer and advocates for HIV and LGBTI issues. While studying at the University of Lagos, he was outed as gay by ‘Company Lifestyle’ a university magazine. On his graduation he was denied his certificate on moral grounds. He became the first Nigerian man to come out in 2004 in national television as a guest on Funmi Iyanda’s new Dawn with Funmi on NCA immediately after her interview with Bisi on the show was cancelled. Owing to threats he sought asylum in the UK. Bisi Alimi was a visiting lecturer to both Freie University and Humboldt University both in Berlin where he was teaching “Pre and Post Colonial Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Africa” He also serves on the board of Stonewall Housing, AllOut and None On Record. His TEDx talk, “There should never be another Ibrahim” has been listed as one of the 14 most inspiring QUEER TEDtalk of all time. He is currently working on his memoir “The Boy from Mushin” with a full length film launching next year. He consulted for World Bank on Economic impact of Homophobia and served on the Bank advisory board on SOGI. He is a fellow of Salzburg Global LGBT Forum and New Voices at the Aspen Institute. Listed 19 most important LGBT person in UK 2015 and was number 68 on the World Pride Power List 2017.
He is the founder and Director of Bisi Alimi Foundation. In 2005, he founded The Initiative for Equal Rights and in 2012, was a founding member of Kaleidoscope Trust in the UK.