Pride Month: LGBTQ Rights Facing Uphill Struggle In Africa

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Young Africans have mixed views on human rights, strongly supporting a wide variety of fundamental protections but drawing the line at those for the LGBTQ community, results from a sweeping new Pan-African survey demonstrate. Across a spectrum of ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic categories, respondents in 14 countries called for greater equality, but nearly 7 out of 10 polled don’t believe that their respective countries should do more to protect the rights of the LGBTQ community.

  • Three-quarters polled (75%) believed that their country belongs to all who live in it
  • More than 80% agree that ethnic minorities deserve more protection
  • 70% believe women’s rights must be improved for Africa to move forward
  • More than half (55%) of African youths polled reported that they were also ‘very concerned’ with the lack of protections for women’s rights
  • 64% say that sexual harassment is a problem in their country


The findings from the African Youth Survey 2020 reveal that Africa’s young people are increasingly tolerant, inclusive and integrated. But LGBTQ rights are not seen as essential or even warranted. While most young Africans want the right of minorities protected and their country to address sexual harassment, there is less appetite to strengthen LGBTQ rights. In Ethiopia, more than three quarters (76%) disagreed with the statement that their country should do more to protect the rights of the LGBTQ community.

South Africa and Ghana were the only countries polled where the majority came out in support of the LGBTQ community, with 64% of South Africans and 56% of Ghanaians agreeing that more needs to be done to protect LGBTQ people, reflecting more progressive tendencies in these countries.

These and other findings were published in the inaugural African Youth Survey 2020, commissioned by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, a leading African foundation encouraging active citizenship across the continent.

Ivor Ichikowitz, Chairman of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, said: “Our Survey shows that LGBTQ rights face a major uphill battle across the continent. The concept of equality hasn’t reached everyone, leaving the LGBTQ community marginalized and unable to play an active role in shaping the African Century that we are all hoping for. This is partly due to a lack of information and misunderstanding. Without celebrating and embracing diversity, our society would be much poorer. We must remain committed to the power of education to build a world where everyone can live their lives to the fullest, without fear, discrimination or intimidation.”

There are no doubt signs of hope on the continent in terms of societal tolerance and inclusivity – South Africa became the first nation on the continent to decriminalise homosexuality in 1998 and in 2006, the nation legalised gay marriage, becoming the fifth country in the world to do so.

Since 2010, several more countries in Southern Africa have decriminalised same-sex relations, including Mozambique, Lesotho and Angola. As recently as June of 2019, Botswana’s High Court overturned laws which criminalised homosexuality; the nation has since legalised same-sex marriages.

The National Assembly of Gabon voted yesterday to adopt an amendment to decriminalize homosexuality, in a move that will see the country become the latest African nation to protect the rights of the LGBTQ community.

Ichikowitz added: “It is encouraging that Africa’s rising generation shares a strong commitment to protecting most of the human rights that are fundamental to democratic societies. The huge support for increased protection of women and the concerns about sexual harassment come at a time when violence against women is viewed as a pandemic. The struggle for women’s rights has come a long way and similarly the fight for LGBTQ rights will not be quick and easy. But there are no doubt glimmering signs of hope slowly blossoming on the continent.”

The inaugural African Youth Survey 2020 was conducted by global research and polling firm, PSB Research in an effort to develop the foundations for a better global understanding of this important demographic. 4,200 young African men and women aged 18-24 were polled in 14 Sub-Saharan African nations; Congo-Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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