by the SPW team
In the statement , that appraises the decision of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights in granting observer status the organization, the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) retraces the long and riding home preceding this outcome since 2007, when their request for observer status was presented to the Court. But the statement also recognizes the deep and wide political meaning of this decision because it implies that CAL can now speak at Commission on their own behalf and name and, as importantly: “it contributes to the recognition of the rights of women human rights defenders to defend human rights and to the recognition of sexuality and gender. “
The relevance of this groundbreaking recognition of the rights of persons whose sexuality differ from the dominant norms in Africa gains additional contours when placed against the wider scenario where sexuality related human rights and entitlements have been debated during the first month of 2015.
For example, in March, 2015, the negotiations at 59th Commission on the Status of Women, which marked 20th years of the Beijing Conference were highly frustrating for women’s rights activists because of limitations in terms of transparency and participation, but most principally because the final political declaration failed to include consecrated language on women’s human rights, in particular in what concerns sexual rights (read more here and here)
Then in April — a week before right before the ACHPR issued its decision on CAL’s observer status — the outcome of the 48th Session of the UN Commission on Population and Development was still more frustrating as no final negotiated resolution was adopted. While matters pertaining to sexual and reproductive rights are always central to the CPD normative and policy agenda, this years negotiation were particular relevant as they aimed at informing the wider ongoing UN policy debates on the post 2015 Development Agenda. Once again negotiations were fraught with lack of transparency, which led feminist organization attending the session to state that: “We hope that when the CPD reconvenes in April 2016 to review its methods of work, governments will use this opportunity to strengthen the CPD as a space to build consensus through negotiations, as they have for 20 years.” (read more here )
Lastly, tensions relating to sexuality and human rights have also taken place at the 7th Summit of the Americas held in Panama City (April, 8-10, 2015) because, as noted by the Latin American LGBTTTI Coalition working at the OAS: “For the first time, religious fundamentalist and anti-rights groups organized to take part in a Summit and we held strong arguments with them. These groups attacked the OAS for ‘interfering with State sovereignty’ by ‘ imposing’ secularism, women’s, sexual and gender diversity rights on them. ” (read more here)
This brief re-capturing tells us that that harsh battles around sexuality and human rights are being fought everywhere. They are not peculiar of specific regions or cultures. On the other, the ACHPR decision on CAL observer status also tell us that endurance and tenacity in these battles pays –off and that good news can arise from the most unexpected places. Congratulations to CAL and all partners that made that possible.