The quest to challenge the negative attitudes in society and unwind repressive state machinery towards sexual minorities in Africa has been embraced by many individuals and organisations across Africa and in other parts of the world. This was evidenced by the selection of participants who attended the annual short course on sexual minorities, presented by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria from 11 to 15 February 2013. In total 39 participants from 26 African countries attended. Five others from Finland, Belgium, Britain and the USA also attended. Participants were drawn from both the public sector (including diplomatic missions) and civil society.

Among others, the course touched on the national and international legal protection of sexual minorities, the role of the media in the protection of LGBTIA rights, public health (MSM and HIV), strategic litigation and advocacy; and the role of national human rights institutions in the protection of sexual minorities. Presentations confronted problems but also showcased positive developments across the continent.

Participants were mostly senior professionals from the NGO sector, inter-governmental organisations, government departments, representatives of national human rights institutions as well as diplomats and senior law students. Early in the week, they engaged in heated debates on sexuality and sexual orientation.

Later on, in group and individual exercises, they analysed current practices, trends and developments by critically examining each other’s’ pre-prepared country reports on the rights of sexual minorities (dealing with such issues as police arrests, detention and torture of suspected LGBT persons; whether or not there are any NGOs or civil society organisations working in this area and also the work of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the protection of LGBTIA persons).

Three documentaries were included in the programme this year, which went a long way to contextualising some of the issues, challenging participants’ perceptions and ideas, and generally helping the process of learning or unlearning.

For The Bible Tells Me So
Biblical interpretation around same sex relations

Getting Out 
The plight of LGBTI persons seeking asylum on the basis of their sexual orientation

Woubi Chéri 
Transgenderism in Africa

The lecturers who presented papers during the course were prominent experts from Africa and Europe in the field of sexuality and human rights. For a detailed programme, please click here.

At the end of the week, participants visited the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, bringing home in a very real way the devastating effects of institutionalised discrimination.

The course coincided with the launch of ‘It Gets Better SA’ Campaign, pioneered by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and involving Africans of all walks of life speaking out against intolerance of sexual minorities and exhorting the world to embrace LGBT youth especially, who are a particularly vulnerable group.

Advanced Human Rights Courses (AHRC)


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