On Tuesday the 9th of May 2017 Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) - a student based civil society organization, worked with the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Unit of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria to produce an evening of engagement, conversation and debate centered around developments in the LGBTQIA+ sphere in Africa and the severe situation of violence, discrimination and oppression facing the LGBTQIA+ community in South Africa.

The guest speakers for the evening included:

  • Monica Tabengwa, an LGBTI rights activist from Botswana. She has worked in different capacities in civil society programing. She is currently the Executive Director of Pan African ILGA a regional network for LGBTI originations;
  • Richard Lusimbo, currently an MPhil student at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. He is the Research and Documentation Manager for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), the leading LGBTI umbrella advocacy organization in Uganda since 2012. He is Co-Director of And still we rise, a documentary covering the development of the anti-gay law in Uganda. Richard serves as Co-Chair of Pan Africa ILGA. He is the African Team Research Chair of the Envisioning Global LGBTI Human Rights.
  • David Nnanna Ikpo, the author of Fimisile Forever, a Nigerian lawyer, storyteller and presently a doctoral candidate at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. He has an LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa from the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa. He runs his personal blog Letters to My Africa (nnannaikpo.blogspot.com) and is the Communications Officer at the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Unit, Centre for Human Rights.
  • William Aseka, a human rights lawyer with special interest on minority rights. He has been involved in litigation of sexual minority in Kenya. Currently he is researching on the intersectionality of being gay and having a disability

Despite South Africa having being at the forefront of democracy and freedom for all, having outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender over 20 years ago with the enactment of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, the question was raised as to what has really changed in the LGBTQIA+ community? And why does this country have such a high rate of hate crimes such as assault, correctional rape and murder?

The four panelists began this lively debate with experiences of their own struggles in their respective countries of origin all over Africa, following which they compared this to their experiences in South Africa as activists. This event came with the realization that we need to question how we begin to move forward when the law on paper is insufficient in protecting people on the streets. Activism is one root to end violence, however this is a highly complicated intersectional problem in society, and the need for education and radicalization of societal misconceptions needs to occur. This was an evening that inspired and educated many, and the feedback that SLSJ has received was incredibly positive as to the mobilization of more future LGBTQIA+ activists.


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