‘If the body that is supposed to protect our human rights denies us that space … everyone is going to take advantage of that denial to harass us,’ says activist Kasha Jacqueline, following the ACHPR’s refusal to grant observer status to the Coalition of African Lesbians.
* The following article is a transcript from an audio recording:
My name is Kasha Jacqueline. I am a feminist, a human rights defender, a gay activist and Pan-African[ist]. When I first heard about the denial of CAL’s [Coalition of African Lesbians] observer status at the African Commission I was devastated. The decision is not only going to affect CAL’s secretariat, it is also going to affect all the members and being a member of CAL I felt that my rights have been violated by stopping me from getting involved with the African Commission.
Why is it that other organisations have been given observer status and why is it that for us we are not given observer status? If the body that is really supposed to protect us as citizens of the continent, citizens of Uganda and different countries that are part of CAL does not grant observer status, we feel that there is no protection at all, because if a big body like the commission just denies our application without even giving us reasons – if you look at the denial letter, it simply says we were denied, why were we denied in the first place? We need to know the reasons as to why we were denied, aren’t we human beings? Are the people at the commission different from us?
We are all human beings regardless of our race, sexual orientation or gender identity, regardless of our age, so I believe that it was injustice at the highest order and something has to be done because it’s violating our rights, our fundamental human rights.
We are part of the African Commission – as members of the continent, as citizens, nationals of the African continent. If the body that is supposed to protect our human rights denies us that space, then it’s like they are throwing us to the graves because everyone is going to take advantage of that denial to harass us, to insult us and to violate our rights, because they will say that if the highest body has violated their rights it means that they are less human than we are and they will also go on.
Already we have a lot of injustices in our constitutions and penal codes around the continent and this is going to be a bad example to other countries that are trying to repeal these laws. We are here struggling, insulted on the streets everyday, evicted from our houses, losing our jobs and the countries that are supposed to protect us are not protecting us. Where we are supposed to go and hold our countries accountable is also not supporting us. It also makes me feel so sad and unwanted in this continent and to be sincere I am speechless because I don’t know where to run now for refuge and justice just to get back what belongs to me that was taken away from me. I just want what belongs to me fundamentally as a human being to be returned. I feel that is injustice at the highest order and that it is so embarrassing what the commission has done. This decision has set a bad example for other bodies and member countries.
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* Kasha Jacqueline is director of Freedom and Roam Uganda.(FARUG). FARUG has been an active member of CAL since 2005. FARUG works to promote,protect and empower LBT persons in Uganda and on the removal of draconian laws in the penal code of Uganda.
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