The first ever African Same Sex Sexualities and Gender Diversity (ASSGD) conference came to an end on Wednesday, 16 February with a media conference aimed at tabling major outcomes of the conference.Touching on various topics, the conference intended to “identify and celebrate indigenous and evolving male and female same-sex sexual practices, identities and communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, including expressions of gender diversity, and to promote their social acceptance and their physical and social well-being.”
This conference, a first of its kind saw over 80 gay rights activists, human rights defenders and scholars from 20 African countries descending to Pretoria’s Faircity Roodevallei Conference and Meeting hotel from 13-16 February.
“The conference was quite diverse in that it brought together academics and activists, a first press conference of its kind that brings a whole range of people together in a very focused way to look at what we know also giving us knowledge about the continent on issues relating to male and female same sex sexual practices in Sub-Saharan Africa” Professor Vasu Reddy of Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) said.
“It was not just a conference where people presented papers on ideas and research but it was also a conference that showed a visual dimension through portraits of transgender activists largely and photographs of experiences from Malawi”, He added.
Linda Bouman, Director of Outright Namibia said, “what I think was significant about this space, was that it brought about research that has been done over the continent that has never been known by people and those strategies that have been shared in terms of how the interventions around the research findings have gone around and how other countries can learn from those lessons and implement in their countries.”
The conference further aimed to “explore how social and structural factors affect the well-being and health of persons engaging in same-sex sexual practices and identify ways of reducing vulnerability.”
Participating Organisations included African Men for Sexual Health and Rights, Behind the Mask, Human Science Research Council amongst others.