ASWA joins LGBTQ+ Sex workers in Africa to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) 2022 ‘We call for an end to Phobias’

May 17th is the day to mark the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHOT 2022).

IDAHOT 2022 reminds us that all sex workers in their diversity should be able to enjoy the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international laws. Yet, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, LGBTQ+ Sex workers in Africa are vulnerable to discrimination and even criminalisation. Gender identity and sexual orientation are essential to our human identity; the rights of LGBTQ+ Sex workers are human rights. Under international law, all LGBTQ+ Sex workers should enjoy the same liberties and rights.

ASWA stands firmly behind the full respect and promotion of human rights of LGBTQ+ Sex workers in Africa. Violations of their rights undermine the shared international goal of human rights for all as well as gender equality. We must address and end such violations for a healthy society.

ASWA advocates for inclusive spaces where LGBTQ sex workers have the freedom to be who they are, where they can thrive and bring their best and most authentic selves.

ASWA advocates for an environment of equality, support and non-discrimination for all sex workers regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

ASWA calls for an end to all phobias: Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

ASWA seeks support to address the risks of reprisals faced by LGBTQ sex workers activists, by implementing a no-tolerance approach for reprisals, intimidations, threats, harassment, violence or any other abuse. We seek to end both explicit and non-explicit forms of discrimination or exclusion.

ASWA hosted a zoom meeting to mark IDAHOT 2022 on 17th May 2022.

Agenda:

  1. Define Phobias
  2. Why the Phobias
  3. Sex workers living amidst Phobias
  4. How should LGBTQ sex workers in Africa mitigate and respond to Phobias

Panelist

  1. Sanyu Hajjara Batte: Board Chair -African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA)
  2. Clara Davis: Co-Regional Coordinator -East Africa Sex Workers Alliance (EASWA)
  3. Rachel Gawases: Equal Rights for All Movement Namibia (ERAM )
  4. Samuel Matsikure: Program Manager -An association of LGBTI people in Zimbabwe (GALZ)
  5. Bronnie Ivy: East Africa Sex Workers Alliance (EASWA)

The panelists discussed the need to be in solidarity and also meaningfully engage all key stakeholders to dismantle the Homo/Trans/Bio Phobias, decolonise LGBTQ sex workers’ human rights and break the systemic and structural violence against LGBTQ sex workers in Africa.

They added the need for documenting all violations that LGBTQ sex workers face to support advocacy for policy shifts and influence opinion leaders toward the well-being of LGBTQ sex workers in Africa.

They noted that there is a language disconnect between LGBTQ sex workers and the media resulting in sensationalized and inaccurate media reporting which elicits violence against LGBTQ sex workers in Africa.

They recommended that law enforcers should carry out their duties to protect and uphold the rights of LGBTQ sex workers in Africa.

Rachel Gawases said that sex workers should own their narrative and define themselves and not allow others to define them. She added that LGBTQ sex workers should conceptualise human rights action plan and clearly depict where they want to go.

We should also be on the lookout for the communities that embrace change and not the ones which avoid change.