African NHRIs address SOGI Rights at Regional Meeting

26 August, 2019

Five National Human Rights Institutions shared their findings from an ongoing pilot project run by the Network of African National Human Rights Networks (NANHRI) to respond to violence, discrimination and stigma faced by individuals and communities on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression (SOGIE).

Drawing from Resolution 275* of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, the NANHRI SOGIE Project was initiated to strengthen the capacity of African NHRIs to work on this issue and is currently collaborating with NHRIs from Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Malawi, and South Africa. At a high-level convening in Accra, Ghana, these NHRIs shared the outcomes of the initial implementation phase of the project which involved staff training, in-country meetings to address country-specific contextual issues, and technical assessments of the NHRIs. The overall aim of the meeting was to generate effective strategies to increase reporting of SOGIE-related violations in order to provide effective remedies that expand the protection space for sexual and gender minorities.

United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Victor Madrigal, welcomed the initiative but cautioned that the efforts may face political and technical challenge. He emphasised the levels of violence and discrimination faced by individuals and communities, often at the hands of the state, and highlighted the need for NHRIs to continue to work on this issue, strategically use UN mechanisms for support, and to champion progressive individuals and institutions.

A report from the meeting and the initial phase of the project provided a number of recommendations for NHRIs to adopt to better implement SOGIE rights protections. These include:

  • Improving investigatory methods and training for investigatory staff to appropriately capture the sensitivity and nuance of SOGIE-related complaints.
  • Improving collaboration with Civil Society Organisations and strengthening referral pathways.
  • Including SOGIE specific information in all treaty-body reports prepared by NHRIs.
  • Developing strategies to support states to implement SOGIE-specific recommendations from treaty bodies and the Universal Periodic Review.  

The full report, including outcomes of the initial phase of the project and all recommendations for further action, is available here. For more information about the project please visit NANHRI’s page on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression


*Resolution 275

  1. Resolution 275 seeks to protect LGBT persons from violence and other human rights violations. The Resolution places emphasis on the protection of the LGBT community from violence.
  2. States are under an obligation to prevent human rights violations, protect and support victims against re-occurrence of violence, investigate violations, prosecute and provide an effective remedy and reparations.
  3. The principles to be upheld in the protection of the rights of LGBT persons include the non-discrimination principle, the ‘do no harm’ principle as well as the due diligence principle. 

Resource: Resolution 275 What it Means for State and Non-State Actors in Africa

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