Opinion: I refuse your label, a human rights activist is a Sogi activist

Published: April 18, 2012

Human Rights advocacy in Africa can be a challenging task for anyone to engage in. My six years experience, from the age 18, has brought me closer to the reality of advocacy than the ideals.
During my initiation in the human rights advocacy community, I was of the impression that my advocacy for human rights should be for all human being regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, creed, and gender identity/expression etc.
The bottom line was human rights were for all human beings, no more no less.
The impression I had, stuck and went with me everywhere. I always conceived the belief that everyone that talked human rights has a good understanding of what it means and will promote it to the last.
Unfortunately, as I have found, this is not the case.
This article was inspired by my participation at the NGO forum preceding the 51st session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. It was not the first time I participated at this forum; in fact, I cannot count how many of these fora I have attended.
I was provoked by the fact that, there always has to be a fight at the NGO forum – presumably occupied by “Human rights activists” – when it comes to resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI).
Once upon a time, the thematic group now referred to SOGI, was called “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT).” This changed because “LGBT” was considered less strategic and was thought to confirm the myth that some activists “promote same-sex relationships” because they themselves are LGBT and that there is nothing about “LGBT” other than the quest for the freedom to have sex (seriously why not?). But I don’t think this is the focus.
I remember that some of us found the thematic group called “LGBT” repugnant and not strategic at all for human rights advocacy, especially on SOGI issues. I believe that the third generation rights are about “group rights” but in my opinion it promotes labels than the real issue of focus.

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