The Queer in Africa conference at Lehigh University in March 2018 will explore the breadth of historical, religious, health, policy and human rights issues facing LGBTQ+ communities on the African continent as well as opportunities for change. The social exclusion of LGBTQ+ persons in Africa is unAfrican in a lot of ways. Most blatantly, it undermines the rights of LGBTQ+ African citizens in ways that are reminiscent of colonial oppression. African cultures take pride in diversity, in promoting acceptance, and in recognizing that everyone contributes to society. Yet, there are laws in place that directly and often virulently attack the humanity, safety and health of LGBTQ+ persons on the continent. With the increasing social and political visibility of LGBTQ+ Africans, a growing number of African scholars, politicians, lawyers, entertainers and members of the civil society are speaking up for LGBTQ+ freedoms on the continent. More dialogue on this issue is needed, not just for the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ persons which is a fundamental human rights issue, but to also curb the losses in productivity, corrosion of human capital, and brain drain from the continent that are all linked to homophobia. Through lively exchanges among activists, community organizers, affiliated and independent scholars with roots in the continent, this conference hopes to open new pathways for critical academic and social discourse, and to embolden activism.
This is a multi- and interdisciplinary international conference to be held on March 21, 2018 at Lehigh University’s campus in Bethlehem, PA. Keynote speaker will be Uganda-based Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, the first LGBT activist to receive the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders and conference panelists to date include Dr. Sybille Ngo Nyeck, University of Amsterdam, ex-priest John Adewoye, University of Chicago Medical Center, and award winning artist Adejoke Tugbiyele, New York City.