Queer Lawfare in Africa: Queer Identities as Political Currency in Autocratisation Processes and Courts as Sites of Resistance

Date/Time: 26 August 2022, 10:00-11:15
Venue: Kulturhuset and Zoom

Across much of Africa the lives of queer people – lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTIQ+) – are deeply affected by an extreme politicization of queer identities and rights. Church leaders and politicians are whipping up hatred, and anti-queer laws are tightened and more harshly enforced. This is by now a familiar issue. But it is only one part of a bigger picture. Some African countries have liberalized the law, decriminalized same sex relations, strengthened rights of transgender people, and outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – and are seeing more tolerant attitudes in the population. And queer activists are using multiple strategies and arenas to advance their cause – such as by taking cases to court, sometimes with considerable success. The Botswana High Court decriminalized homosexuality in 2019, in a judgment upheld by the court of appeals. This roundtable discusses the dynamics of queer lawfare in a range of African countries: why developments are so different across countries, how autocratic leaders use anti-queer mobilization, and the relationship between queer activism and political backlash.

Introduction: Adrian Jjuuko (Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum Uganda – HRAPF)
Participants: Camila Gianella (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and LawTransform), Getnet Tadele (Addis Ababa University), Nicholas Orago (University of Nairobi), Liv Tønnessen (LawTransform / CMI), Vegard Vibe (UiB) (Chapter authors)
Commentator: Bruce Wilson (University of Central Florida) 
Moderator: Siri Gloppen (UiB / LawTransform)

The event is part of the LawTransform project “Political Determinants of Sexual & Reproductive Health” (RNC/Globvac) and marks the forthcoming book, edited by  A. Jjuuko, S. Gloppen, A. Msosa and F. Viljoen: Queer Lawfare in Africa (Pretoria University Press). It is also part of the LawTransform Queer Lawfare seminar series, sponsored by Fritt Ord.