Meet 7 Activists Fighting to Improve LGBTQ+ Rights Across Africa

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07/27/2021

I’ve personally experienced two homophobic attacks in my home city of Enugu, in southeastern Nigeria: one from the police and the other from a crowd of students. In both instances, I was threatened with death and left traumatized. Unfortunately, such attacks in Nigeria, and in much of Africa, where just 22 out of 54 of the continent’s countries have legalized LGBTQ+ unions, are common. The other 32 countries have various penalties for LGBTQ+ people, such as life imprisonment (Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, among them) and even the death penalty (Somalia, Mauritania, South Sudan, and Nigeria, in states where sharia law is applied). As a femme and queer man, I rarely feel safe outside queer-friendly communities and I’m constantly aware of the dangers I face. But my experiences have shaped me into the person I am today, reinforcing my conviction and activism. I find hope in the fact that some countries are overturning anti-LGBTQ+ laws—many of them a legacy of colonialism—as was the case in Botswana, where judge Michael Leburu declared that “the anti-sodomy laws are a British import” and were developed “without the consultation of local peoples.”

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