|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
As the movement for gay rights intensifies in Africa, accelerated by among others, hate crimes that are spiraling out of control in the continent, a gay rights organisation has been established in Namibia aiming to amplify voices of the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people who often face human rights violations such as social homophobia, lack of access to public health and loss of employment due to their sexual orientation.
OutRight Namibia (ORN) was formed in March 2010 by Namibian LGBTI, MSM and WSW activists. It prioritizes leadership development, human rights, emancipation of movement building as well as health and legal reform as its main strategic areas of focus.
Legally registered in November 2010, ORN seeks to respond to challenges facing the LGBTI community in Namibia such as exclusion in the National system and the general non recognition of LGBTI people in the Namibian social communities.
“Since we are a new organisation, it is still a challenge to garner trust and momentum in our communities. But we have a high rate of human rights violations and the LGBTI community here is still not comfortable to report cases due to secondary victimization and lack of tracking to ensure that justice is served. Access to public health services is also an area of concern”, Linda Bauman of ORN said.
She added, “As a diverse community, identified within minority groups, it is evident that we can not be left out of the national interventions and strategies. Our existence and persistence on issues of equality and equity are inevitable as our community’s representatives form part of the larger society.”
Bauman also highlighted that the Namibian government has not firmly places its position on protecting all LGBTI people but said that their constitution has been a tool used to demand protection.
“Our strategy is to work broadly within regions, set up structures and ensure skills, also conducting continuous sensitization and building knowledge”, Bauman said.
ORN has been active within the region and internationally. The organisation is a member of the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), PAN African ILGA, and ILGA International, AMSHER, ARC International, ARASA, Gender DynamiX and others.
It is currently running projects such as, among others, the Global Fund Project on MSM and other LGBTI communities, a research on the health of lesbians, bisexuals, and WSW in Southern Africa.
ORN’s mission is “to work diligently towards the attainment of the full constitutional equality and equity of sexual diverse people in Namibia; through strategic advocacy, lobbying, evidence based interventions and movement building.”
The vision, to be a leading agency in creating a united movement of sexual diversities that enjoys improved quality of life and access to legal and social justice.”