A two-day regional workshop on the Right to association and assembly of sexual minorities in East and Central Africa was Convened in Kigali on August 26 and 27, 2021 by Human Rights First Rwanda Association with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)
The objective of the regional workshop was to discuss issues faced by the Sexual Minorities while accessing the right to freedom of association and assembly for sexual Minorities in central and east Africa.
Activists across the region discussed issues concerning the challenges faced by sexual minorities who include Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer (LGBTIQ+) groups in accessing the right to peaceful assembly and the freedom of association including the registration of the LGBTIQ+ organizations in their countries and in the region at large.
As one participant from the Democratic Republic of Congo stated, discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people is engrained in DRC’s society. Many LGBT people in DRC have been subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or arbitrary arrests based on their real sexual orientation and gender identity, at the hands of State actors and other society members. Coupled with all these issues they do not have the right to freedom of association and assembly neither their organizations granted registration certificates.
Participants from Kenya stated in the meeting that Kenya is governed by an expansive, values-based constitution that asserts principles of anti-discrimination, inclusion, and human rights promotion. They added that the 2010 Kenyan Constitution recognizes the “aspirations of all Kenyans for a government based on the essential values of human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice and the rule of law and that its Bill of Rights guarantees broad protections.
However they added that despite this progressive constitution, Kenya’s penal code continues to criminalize “carnal knowledge against the order of nature,” and same-sex conduct is punishable.
Mr. AMUTWENDIZE Rodgers, a Lawyer who works with Human Rights First Rwanda Association pointed out that, “Preventing sexual minorities from registering their organization and to deny them their right to peaceful assembly is a big challenge and societal problem and a violation of their human rights and he termed it as discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. He stated that if other members of the society are allowed to meet for prayers and other gatherings, why can’t the LGBTIQ communities be accorded the same rights to peaceful assembly and register their organizations”
The workshop also provided a timely opportunity to discuss both the LGBTIQ rights situation in this current climate of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and avenues for participation and coalition building.
The workshop was an important opportunity for organizations across the region to share their challenges and expand the network of LGBTIQ organizations in a challenging region for the rights of sexual minorities.