• Press Release

President Obama Must Use Africa Trip to Push Leaders to Protect Human Rights

June 26, 2013

New Report Shows Need for Pressing Response to Escalating Violence, Homophobia against LGBTI Communities in


Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 212-633-4150, @AIUSAmedia

(NEW YORK) – On the eve of President Obama’s trip this week to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania, Amnesty International USA is urging the president to

demand greater respect for and protection of human rights across the African continent. In a letter sent to the president last week, Amnesty

International USA asked him to address the issues of gender-based violence, violence and discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and

intersex (LGBTI) communities. Today, Amnesty International released a report documenting escalating homophobia and arrests of LGBTI individuals across Africa. The letter

also urged attention be paid to ending gender based violence against women and deepening threats to civil society.

The report, “Making Love a Crime: Criminalization of Same-Sex Conduct in Sub-Saharan Africa,” found that “homosexual acts” are being increasingly

criminalized across Africa. Homosexuality is illegal or in the process of being criminalized in 38 African countries, including in two that

President Obama will visit – Senegal and Tanzania. In Mauritania, Sudan and northern Nigeria, individuals found guilty of homosexuality face the death

penalty. Additionally, in the last five years, Uganda, South Sudan, Burundi, Liberia and Nigeria have introduced laws that further criminalize homosexuality. The report also includes a

review of the current state of anti-LGBTI legal provisions across the continent and features case studies of African individuals struggling to survive daily

discrimination and threats.

In the letter to the president, Amnesty International suggests specific policy priorities that President Obama should share with the leaders of South

Africa, Senegal and Tanzania. The group also recommends that the president meet with organizations defending human rights, especially those working to

protect the rights of women and the LGBTI community.

“Africa typically fails to receive significant attention, and visits by the president of the United States are rare,” said Adotei Akwei, managing director

of Government Relations and Africa specialist for Amnesty International USA in Washington. “Amnesty International sees this trip as one of the few

opportunities that President Obama will have to recommit the United States to being a force for human rights and human dignity in partnership with the

governments of Africa and the African people.” “President Obama has an opportunity to underscore to African leaders and the African public that all

individuals, irrespective of gender or sexual orientation, have rights, and governments have the obligation to protect those rights.”

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in

more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and

works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.