Pan Africa ILGA (PAI) is congratulating the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), for having been granted observer status at the 56th session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), in Banjul on 25 April 2015. The decision results from long and tireless advocacy efforts by CAL and partners in engaging with the ACHPR dating back to November 2006.

CAL’s first application for the observer status submitted in 2008 was declined during the 48th session of the ACHPR in October 2010. At the time, the ACHPR said in their letter to CAL that; “The ACHPR decided, after a vote, not to grant Observer Status to the Coalition for African Lesbians (CAL), South Africa, whose application had been pending before it. The reason being that, the activities of the said Organization do not promote and protect any of the rights enshrined in the African Charter.” This decision generated large solidarity from the other civil society organisations (CSO) attending the 48th session, with eighteen CSOs oral statements denouncing the decision in open session.

PAI commends the ACHPR for this groundbreaking decision in the continent, this decision demonstrates how the regional human rights body has evolved in ensuring the protection of human rights in Africa without discrimination including on the basis of the sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE). This milestone, opens the door to many organisations working on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons to apply for observer status and reinforce their engagement at the ACHPR.

“This decision to grant CAL observer status following soon after the landmark resolution Protection against Violence and other Human Rights Violations against Persons on the basis of their real or imputed SOGI is an indication that the ACHPR finally recognizes the importance of working with civil society to stop all forms of violence against people based on actual and/or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity” said Yahia Zaidi PAI, Co-chair.

However, PAI was disappointed and saddened by the inappropriate language used during the discussion especially when the Vice Chair Commissioner Mohamed Bechir Khalfallah (Tunisia) described our LGBTI communities as “virus coming from the west”.

“The journey for equality  for LGBTI communities is arduous and is paved with a lot of resistance even in such space when we expect more tolerance and openness, the decision at the ACHPR is proof of the continued and relentless commitments and engagements by LGBTI organisations and human rights defenders and activists. ” Yahia added.


PAI is commending the ACHPR for granting the observer status to an entity such as CAL, an African organization working hard to make it possible for LGBTI communities and individuals to exist. PAI urge the ACHPR to review their procedures and ways of working to ensure that all rights enshrined in the African Charter are enjoyed universally, treating all human being including LGBTI communities are human beings with rights, dignity and respect.

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For more information, please contact:

Yahia Zaidi (Brussels. Belgium): +32 471 66 12 80

Kholoud Bidak (South Africa) : +27 77741084317