Sunday, February 20, 2011


The first ever African Same Sex Sexualities and Gender Diversity (ASSGD) conference came to an end on Wednesday, 16 February with a media conference aimed at tabling major outcomes of the conference.Touching on various topics, the conference intended to “identify and celebrate indigenous and evolving male and female same-sex sexual practices, identities and communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, including expressions of gender diversity, and to promote their social acceptance and their physical and social well-being.”
This conference, a first of its kind saw over 80 gay rights activists, human rights defenders and scholars from 20 African countries descending to Pretoria’s Faircity Roodevallei Conference and Meeting hotel from 13-16 February.
“The conference was quite diverse in that it brought together academics and activists, a first press conference of its kind that brings a whole range of people together in a very focused way to look at what we know also giving us knowledge about the continent on issues relating to male and female same sex sexual practices in Sub-Saharan Africa” Professor Vasu Reddy of Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) said.
“It was not just a conference where people presented papers on ideas and research but it was also a conference that showed a visual dimension through portraits of transgender activists largely and photographs of experiences from Malawi”, He added.
Linda Bouman, Director of Outright Namibia said, “what I think was significant about this space, was that it brought about research that has been done over the continent that has never been known by people and those strategies that have been shared in terms of how the interventions around the research findings have gone around and how other countries can learn from those lessons and implement in their countries.”
The conference further aimed to “explore how social and structural factors affect the well-being and health of persons engaging in same-sex sexual practices and identify ways of reducing vulnerability.”
This is why on the second day of the conference participants heard stories about blackmail and extortion of LGBTI persons from Ghana, Malawi and Nigeria, followed by an educational discussion about blackmail.
It was also revealed that activists still face harassment death due to criminalization of same sex practices making it difficult for LGBTI people to access services.
It was further revealed that several initiatives have been implemented that reach out to MSM, but these initiatives are not enough hence it was agreed that educating and training health care workers to deliver unbiased services is needed.
“One of the speakers expected to be here was David Kato. He was on the list as a guest speaker and we kept his name on the programme, we had a very moving moment of silence when his presentation was due to take place and in the evening we had a tribute for him”, said Theo Sandfort of Columbia University.
Participating Organisations included African Men for Sexual Health and Rights, Behind the Mask, Human Science Research Council amongst others.