The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (UP), with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, hosted a week-long capacity building workshop on strategic litigation and advocacy for LGBTI+ human rights defenders in Africa. The workshop is an annual event organised by the Centre’s Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) Unit and is aimed at empowering LGBTI+ human rights defenders in Africa, with a specific focus on how to conduct strategic advocacy and litigation. This year’s edition was held from 7 to 11 October 2019.
The workshop began on Monday 7 October at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands where Dutch Ambassador Han Peters welcomed the workshop participants and spoke on the importance of advancing the rights of LGBTI+ persons in both the legal and social realm throughout the continent. Following the Ambassador’s opening remarks, the Director of the Centre, Prof Frans Viljoen also addressed the work being done within the Centre around these issues and encouraged participants to use the workshop as a place to engage and learn from one another.
Dr Adrian Jjuuko, a Centre alumnus and Executive Director of Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) in Uganda, introduced participants to the practical foundations of strategic litigation, with an emphasis on why certain tools and strategies should be drawn on when advocating for LGBTI+ communities using law. Following Dr Jjuuko’s presentation, Monica Tabengwa, also a Centre alumna and a human rights lawyer from Botswana and programme manager with HIVOS, gave a presentation on the decriminalisation of same-sex relationships in Botswana.
The second day of the workshop was opened with a presentation on the use of strategic litigation in transnational activism throughout the continent by Sibongile Ndashe, founder and Executive Director of the Initiative for Strategic Litigation Africa (ISLA). Following her, the workshop held a panel on the use of strategic litigation in country specific cases with a focus on Botswana, Kenya, and Nigeria. Tashwill Esterhuizen, a lawyer at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), followed up on this panel by elaborating on the ways in which strategic litigation has been used in Southern Africa specifically. Subsequently, Chrispine Sibande, doctoral candidate at the Centre, delivered a presentation on the importance of building partnerships in strategic litigation.
Duke Rasebopye, Project Manager at CSA&G commenced the third day with a session and was followed by David Ikpo, a writer, lawyer, and Communications Officer at the Centre, who presented on the role of literature in LGBTI+ advocacy. Prof Viljoen led a discussion on implementing Resolution 275 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which calls on state parties to curb violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Pamela Adie, Executive Director of The Equality Hub engaged participants on the intersections between advocacy and media within the LGBTI+ community. Lastly, Katlego Chibamba and Samuel Shapiro, both from The Other Foundation, concluded the third day of the workshop with a session on the changing nature of grant applications as well as the processes for requesting funding for specific advocacy projects.
On the fourth day of the workshop, Toni Kruger-Ayebazibwe, Executive Director of the Global Interfaith Network for People of All Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expressions (GIN-SSOGIE), gave a presentation on the role of faith in LGBT+ advocacy. Toni’s session was followed by a session on intersex advocacy and the importance of ‘messaging’, led by Mphatso Sakala, Executive Director of Intersex Society of Zambia (ISSZ). Denise Zambezi, a legal research and advocacy coordinator at Access Chapter 2, which is based in South Africa, presented on trans advocacy and inclusion in the work of her organisation. The workshop then participated in an LBQ advocacy interactive session led by Pamela Adie.
The final day of the workshop began with a captivating presentation from Numbi Edher, a lecturer and student at UP, on the relevance of visuals and visual aid in the promotion of LGBTI+ rights. The final session was led by the workshop coordinators, Geoffrey Ogwaro and Ayo Sogunro. They concluded the workshop with a dialogue on takeaways from the week and a discussion on concrete steps into the future for strategy litigation and advocacy before awarding certificates of participation to the participants.
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