Chatting with Destabilisers


In 2018, Accountability International began documenting the tacit knowledge that sits in the minds of our African lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer and gender non-conforming activist friends and colleagues.

This knowledge is not yet being actively documented, nor analysed, nor disseminated for use in decision-making of those working to advance the human rights of LGBTI/GNC Africans.

We at Accountability International, believe that the knowledge, opinions, and experience of these people is vital to informed decision-making by anyone working in the field of human rights in Africa, especially allies, funding partners, and the United Nations bodies.

For this reason, we conducted interviews with 22 LGBTI/GNC African activists and allies, and without changing what they said, we offer you their words here.

We hope that their analysis of the situation, their thoughts and advice on what should be done to improve access to equality, as well as their warnings, are heeded by us all as we push forward for equality.

Please click the reports to read immediately or click download to save.

To be clear, we did not intend to capture personal experiences of human rights abuses; but some stories did emerge and in the interest of keeping the work as honest to the actual responses of the activists, we have kept the content almost untouched and unchanged (except for removing identifiers and structuring phrasing for comprehension purposes, but only where vital).

We promised interviewees that all identifiers would be removed to allow the interviewees to be as frank as they desired, without fear of repercussion. Not many were worried anyway, given that they are a fearless bunch, but we kept our word anyway.

We call this - the Community of Practice research - at Accountability International because our overall goal is to ensure that we share and leverage each other’s knowledge, analyses, skills and know-how to arrive at equality as quickly as possible..

This research forms part of the Destabilising Heteronormativity Project; a project which aims to destigmatise LGBTI/GNC identities and increase accountability on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE) on the African continent.

The 22 interviews were conducted in mid-to-late 2018, with activists from across sub-Saharan Africa. The aim of the Community of Practice research was to document the rich and diverse knowledge and expertise from LGBTI/GNC activists and their allies and as a learning and sharing platform.

The Community of Practice research aims to use this as an accountability and sustainability tool to hold leaders accountable and to amplify the voices and experiences of African LGBTI/GNC people. Through the research, we address the following topics, amongst others:

  • What are the major challenges faced by African LGBTI/GNC today?
  • What progress has not been made through LGBTI/GNC activism over the last 5-10 years?
  • What is our understanding of intersectionality and intersecting movements to make an even greater impact?
  • What does accountability look like for African LGBTI/GNC? What role should allies and funding partners play in supporting the African LGBTI/GNC movement?

Through these interviews we hear from African LGBTI/GNC people themselves as well as the views of allies who have been working alongside LGBTI/GNC over the years.

Through reading and understanding the opinions of these key experts, we hope you have greater insight into what your role might be to advance LGBTI/GNC rights in Africa.

With thanks and appreciation to our 22 activists who shared their time, expertise and advice.

Research led by Lucinda van den Heever and Sheriff Mothopeng