ARASA launches a Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, HIV and Human Rights Advocacy Toolkit

Posted by ARASA on August 3, 2015

ARASA launched a Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, HIV and Human Rights Advocacy Toolkit on 3 August, 2015during its 4th Annual LGBTI Knowledge-sharing and Networking Workshop, implemented as part of the Dignity, Diversity and Rights Programme, implemented with Positive Vibes, Hivos and COC. 
The foreword, written by Edwin Cameron, Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa states that: 
"For those whose sexual identity and orientation need respect and protection – that is, every single one of us – Africa today presents a paradox. On the one hand, more states seem to be embracing democracy. Since 1990, most sub-Saharan states have legalised opposition parties and held multiparty elections. This didn’t come smoothly, or from bloodless transitions. But the basic principles of opposition and democracy got a toe-hold, perhaps more. On the other – horror; too much horror. Violence, persecution,  imprisonment, ignorant, hatefilled rhetoric against sexual minorities. The reactionary position of some African leaders towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons is a blight on a continent groping towards, grappling with, its own future.
Open minds towards sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) rights are necessary for rights. They are necessary for democracy. And they are necessary for development. And they are also indispensable for health. 
That’s why the appearance of this important Toolkit is so delightful. A great and grand array of organisations, across Africa, put themselves on the line in supporting its publication. They are committed to the rights of all
people across the gender and sexual orientation spectrum – yours as well as mine. Each organisation represents the diverse struggles of us as Africans to challenge dictatorship, to reject autocracy and minority rule, as well as
our own marginalisation and persecution.
The Toolkit is wonderful. It is savvy, well-informed, shrewd and full of good, practical sense. But it is also more. It is a testament to something irreversible in our lives on this our continent – that, more and more, we as African LGBTI people are claiming our sexual and gender identity more and more visibly and vocally. We’re coming out and we’re proudly saying so.
In doing this, we express our enduring belief in justice and freedom and acceptance – and the power of plain good sense and human love.
This Toolkit does a lot of things. And it does them very well. Lessons in the campaign for access to anti-retroviral therapy in South Africa are wound up with the fight against gender based violence and the right to safety and
security in our homes, on the streets and in our communities. These struggles are what lawyers and academics call “intersecting”. That means those struggle for them show our rights as humans – different, tender, yearning, needful, proud and clamant humans – are interconnected.
The case studies are vivid and practical. The Toolkit has captured these lessons in a way that organisations and individuals and seminars and classrooms will be able to use and enjoy.
Perhaps we can hope that heads of State and legislators may see it too. It will be helpful in enlarging their humanity – a task that continues, within each of us, every day. The Toolkit makes that task more interesting, pleasurable and practical. I rejoice in its appearance."
Edwin Cameron