Africanising Human Rights in the 21st Century: Gay Rights, African Values and the Dilemma of the African legislator

in International Human Rights Law Review
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Since the late 1990s, African political leaders have personified the disgust that African societies supposedly hold against homosexuality and sexual minorities. Relying on international human rights norms that require the protection of sexual minority rights, advocates have mounted sustained pressure on parliaments in Africa to decriminalise homosexuality and make law advantageous to sexual minorities. This article argues that focus on parliaments is not the best option as legislators face a dilemma when they have to choose between respect for international human rights norms and responsiveness to their electorates. This article does not argue that African lawmakers should be excused from a duty to ensure compliance with international human rights obligations undertaken by their respective states by decriminalising homosexuality. Rather, the article points out that in comparative terms, the judicial arms of African governments are better situated to provide leadership by recognising and safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable minorities.




 See The Anti-Homosexual Bill 2009, available at:


UN Doc. CCPR/C/78/D/941/2000 (2000).


S Salisbury, (2011) ‘African Opposition to the UN Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’ available at: -resolution-on-sexual-orientation-gender-identity/.


Wright, supra n. 66 at 1267.


Kahan, supra n. 11 at 1638.


Kahan, supra n. 11 at 1636.


Michelman, supra n. 9 at 1723.


Wright, supra n. 66 at 1265.


Cited by Wright, supra n. 66 at 1266.


Wright, supra n. 66 at 1267.


Cited by Wright, supra n. 66 at 1268.


Goldberg, ibid. at 1238. See also McConnell, supra n. 50 at 666–667.


Wright, supra n. 66 at 1268.


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