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Visibility or impact? International efforts to defend LGBTQI+ rights in Africa 

Prof. Stephen Brown


In this talk, Stephen Brown analyzes the question of international efforts to defend LGBTQI+ rights in countries in the Global South, with a particular focus on Western countries’ endeavours in Africa. Combining policy analysis, critique and recommendations, he asks how and when international actors should and should not intervene. His talk recognizes that motives for intervening can be problematic and the means often counterproductive, especially when exhibiting neo-imperialist tendencies and constituting ad hoc reactions to events in the media. Countering essentialist arguments about ‘authentic’ African culture and values, influenced by religious beliefs, is also a significant challenge. He argues that more fruitful efforts should be centred on local rights defenders’ perspectives and supporting their priorities and initiatives, based on concerted, long-term, principled strategies. International actors, however, will be reluctant to adopt such approaches because of a desire for short-term visible action, even if less effective or not effective at all.

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