New research highlights the intersections between LGBTQ and sex worker rights movements in East Africa
A new report highlighting the interconnectedness of the LGBTIQ and sex worker rights movement in East Africa says that both these movements have greatly contributed to social justice in the region.
‘The LGBTIQ and sex worker movements in East Africa’ published by Bridge (UK) looked at the background and development of these two movements, the connections between them, and their strategies, tactics and agendas. In addition, key achievements of the movements and the challenges that remain and lessons that can be learnt about inclusive movement building for social justice and human rights were also highlighted in the report.
Both these movements arose from a need for collective responsibility and call for rights, the report noted. “The sex worker movement in East Africa grew from small scale regional organising to more joined-up activism which was strengthened by ongoing capacity building and leadership training to encourage sex workers to engage in policy processes and influence decisions. As a result, loose coalitions such as the African Sex Worker Alliance emerged,’ it noted. ‘Individual lesbian and gay community members and activists stepped into rough waters to claim their right to be human, to engage on issues deeply passionate to themselves.’
Noting that this development ‘occurred against an environment of abuse, discrimination, restrictive legislation, and violence towards LGBTIQ persons and sex workers,’ the report said both these movements, at the time, were ‘propelled to mobilise and organise to demand respect and fulfilment of their rights.’ It was further ‘precipitated by the need to garner collective support and agenda setting through the power of numbers.’
Key changes these two movements have effected, the report noted are:
· Influencing policy decisions in the region: including legislation (Rwanda), key constitutional and human rights (Kenya).
· Increased public awareness on sexual rights, demystify myths on sexuality, and fight the homophobic propaganda disseminated through right wing religious extremists and church lobbies
· Organising through formal and informal spaces such as community based groups, loose coalitions and alliances, umbrella groups have emerged which offer alternatives in times of hostility or pending harm
Among the varied achievements, the report notes there has been visibility of both movements as key social actors; effective use of atomised collectivity and organizing using Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and social media, cross border organising and inter-movement through alliance building and partnerships; building of capacities through mentorship, and strategic litigation to challenge the constitutionality of repressive legislation as well as to pursue inherent human rights.
You can download this PDF report here.