We are excited to announce the launch of We Exist: Mapping LGBTQ Organizing in West Africa. Along with charting the growth of activism, this thirty-two-page report assesses the challenges and opportunities activists face. It is available in English and French.
Summary of key points:
- Activists are working within a diversity of legal contexts, but trends of rising religious fundamentalism and state-sponsored homophobia cut across countries.
- In the past five years, there has been a notable emergence of organizations led by queer-identified women and gender nonconforming people, and trans-led activism is gaining momentum — indicating potential for building more inclusive movements.
- Collaboration among groups is limited but growing, primarily through country-level and regional networks and coalitions. Cross-border work between Anglophone and Francophone countries is especially limited, but a culture of collaboration is developing.
- Groups are using a variety of strategies to address the concerns of LGBTQ communities, including family mediation, working with media, documenting rights violations, engaging law enforcement, providing emergency shelter provision, and facilitating safety and security trainings. All fifty organizations surveyed identified human rights literacy and legal aid as critical needs in their communities.
- Key areas for strengthening within organizations and communities are: understandings of trans identities and issues, inclusion of youth concerns, support for queer women’s sexual and reproductive health, ways to address intimate partner violence, economic empowerment programs, and initiatives that speak to LGBTQ people’s faith and religious affiliations.
- International donors and local organizations identify weak institutional capacity as a major challenge for groups. Donors cite this as a reason for limited investment in the region, yet groups report difficulty accessing funds for institutional development.
- Particularly in Francophone countries, organizations have limited knowledge of and access to international funders.