This law was passed in a context of rising threats not only to sexual minorities but also to women’s rights more broadly, such as the passing of the Ugandan Anti-Pornography Bill a day before the Anti-Homosexuality Bill appeared in parliament, and which indicates a deepening in fundamentalism in the region.
These NGOs – OUT (Pretoria), Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (Johannesburg), Forum for the Empowerment of Women (Johannesburg), Durban Lesbian and Gay Community and Health Centre, Pietermaritzburg Gay and Lesbian Network and Triangle Project (Cape Town) – collaborate on the Love not Hate programme addressing hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in South Africa. Many programme partners have been working on LGBTI equality issues in South Africa for as long as 20 years, including working closely with Government.
Programme partners met with the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) on Friday 28 February 2014. From developments over the past week it appears that the Ugandan Government remains publicly unmoved by the wide-ranging criticism of its homophobic legislation. Further public pressure from the South African Government might have the negative effect of further polarisation and hardening of attitudes. At this point, a more constructive approach might lie within further relationship building to address homophobia within Africa in the longer-term.
The Love not Hate programme partners will collaborate with the South African Government on issues such as creating forums to discuss how homophobia can be addressed in Africa. It might also be productive to start with civil society exchanges between different countries to collaboratively work on programmes eradicating homophobia, human rights and gender prejudice.
Dr Ingrid Lynch from the Triangle Project said: “We believe that the Ugandan and similar other laws such as the Nigerian Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act are totally abhorrent. However, we need to think strategically and start building relations with Governments and civil society groups and individuals. This might be a very long-term process with no quick solutions. We will continue our involvement with DIRCO and other stakeholders to further the protection of sexual and gender rights throughout Africa”.