As it was for the previous Convention 2023, we focus on the global statistics, with over 76 countries that still criminalize same-sex relationships and behavior, of which 38 are African countries, according to the 2014 report by ILGA. Recent surveys also show that the overwhelming majority of people who live in Africa strongly disapprove of homosexuality. This impedes the work of NGOs and activists and the wider dissemination of new science about sexual orientation.
At a time when we see more and more countries worldwide becoming progressive with regard to LGBTIQ rights, Africa still maintains its anti-LGBT stance. Many Africans (about 95%) are resistant to the notion that one can naturally be homosexual, and many support the existing anti-homosexuality laws. Anti-homosexuality bills and laws were not only written into African constitutions but also into the minds of many African people, and after the passing of several generations, this has become a dogma.
On the other hand, Canada is regarded as the most gay-friendly nation in the world, topping the charts for the Gay Travel Index since 2018 and Forbes Magazine’s list of the five safest nations since 2019. Canada has some of the most developed LGBT rights in North America and the entire globe.
Based on the ACI Convention 2023, which gathered activists, scholars, policymakers, community leaders, and individuals dedicated to advancing human rights and promoting social empowerment, the convention aimed to foster knowledge exchange, collaboration, and the development of concrete strategies to address the challenges faced by LGBTIQ+ individuals in Africa and around Canada. Many aspects of human rights advocacy were noted during the 2023 convention.
- Partnership for Change: The convention will aim to bring organizations or entities together to bring about positive and transformative changes in various aspects of society, such as human rights and social-economic justice, amongst LGBTIQ rights. This will involve working together to address challenges, create innovative solutions, or promote positive initiatives. We will emphasize the importance of collaboration and cooperation among various stakeholders, such as NGOs, civil society organizations, the government, and international organizations, to advance and protect human rights. The collaboration between the African Centre for Refugees in Ontario and Global Events Services of Canada ensured the seamless execution of the convention, emphasizing the commitment to creating a safe and inclusive space for dialogue and action.
- Addressing a Global Challenge: The convention brought to light the stark realities faced by LGBTIQ+ individuals in Africa, where same-sex relationships and behavior remain criminalized in 38 out of 76 countries. Participants engaged in frank discussions about the urgent need for change and the role of global solidarity.
- Canada’s Leadership: The convention highlighted Canada’s status as a global leader in promoting LGBT rights, underscoring the importance of sharing best practices and experiences with other nations.
- Action-Oriented Approach: ACI Convention 2023 culminated in the formulation of a comprehensive action plan to advance the rights of LGBTIQ+ individuals in Africa. This plan outlines strategies and means for advocacy, support, and empowerment.
- Global Networking: Participants had the opportunity to build collaborative networks, exchange innovative ideas, and explore evidence-based approaches to policy, research, and practice in the field of human rights.
All the learning objectives of the ACI Convention 2023 achieved the following learning objectives:
- Identified challenges and proposed solutions related to human rights, with a particular focus on LGBTIQ+ rights.
- Gained insights into the current status of public health evidence, research, policy, and practice.
- Explored effective evidence-based education programs and practices to support the LGBTIQ+ community.
- Evaluated strategies for translating knowledge and skills into meaningful action.
- Established a network of colleagues and partners for future initiatives and collaborations.