Regional legal and policy instruments for addressing LGBT exclusion in Africa

Population Dynamics and Urbanization in Africa

  • November 2021
  • Journal Articles

The vulnerability of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in Africa to public health and other risks is heightened by their exclusion from socio-economic opportunities and services. We analysed existing regional-level legal and policy instruments and treaties for the opportunities they offer to tackle the exclusion of LGBT persons in Africa. We identified seven key living legal and policy instruments, formulated and adopted between 1981 and 2018, by the African Union (AU) or its precursor, the Organization of African Unity. These treaties and instruments do not only highlight the region’s challenges related to inclusion, most of them are binding and enforceable, and all enshrine the responsibility of AU member-states to safeguard and ensure the inclusion and protection of citizens, their gender or sexual orientation notwithstanding. The instruments set forth strong and ambitious agendas of inclusion and recognise and affirm the rights of the region’s citizens to sexual and reproductive health (SRH), equality, freedom and opportunities, regardless of their sexual orientation. Their language is generally universalist and their rejection of discrimination, criminalisation, and denial of socio-economic opportunities and services to the region’s sexual minorities is forthright. However, the instruments do not explicitly mention LGBT persons and lack clear and effective mechanisms for answerability among member-states. Accountability and commitment among member-states towards these instruments and policies will improve national legal and policy environments and propel forward the agenda of LGBT inclusion, SRH and wellbeing in the region.



Associate Research Scientist

Frederick Murunga Wekesah

Frederick Murunga Wekesah is an epidemiologist and a researcher. He…

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