In addition to the in-country support it gives to LGBTI organisations in Kenya and Tanzania, COC has also been supporting a more regionally focused project in East Africa.
Based on input received from LGBTI organisations, activists and movements in the region and supported by an in-depth regional context analysis of the needs of LGBTI people and of the current gaps in relevant programming and international support, COC and LGBTI organisations from Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania have chosen to continue their collaboration in regional human rights mechanisms.
Having begun in 2013 as part of Bridging the Gaps, this collaboration has now been implemented as part of the PRIDE programme.
In the last couple of years, the African Commission and Human and Peoples Rights commission has gained strength and demonstrated its potential as an avenue for advocacy on LGBTI issues. Whereas international (United Nations) human rights mechanism might be portrayed as being Western, the human rights mechanisms that have been developed as part of the African Union and in line with the African Charter are by definition African.
The inclusion of SOGIESC-specific language and resolutions supporting the human rights situation of African LGBTI people has had, and continues to have, a direct impact on national policy development and civil society and on the media’s perception of sexual orientation and gender identity.
LGBTI organisations, coalitions and networks from the five countries mentioned are jointly strategising on approaches to lobbying and advocacy on the national, sub regional and African levels. Sharing skills, information and forces not only provides an efficient and relevant approach, it is also needed in a time when the conservative blocks in Africa are also joining forces and developing joint and well-funded strategies to attack the very foundations of equality and freedom that are enshrined in the African Charter.