THEME:        Building solidarity and a common LGBTIQ+ Agenda for Change

VENUE:        Protea Hotel, Marriot, Wanderers, Johannesburg

DATE:           2 to 4 March 2022



The European Union funded ‘Out and Proud Southern Africa’ project, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program [UNDP], Southern Africa Litigation Centre [SALC] and COSPE will from the 2 to 4 March 2022, host a Southern Africa LGBTIQ+ Human Rights Defenders Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.


In December 2020, under the theme ‘Activists Unite’, the partners convened about 800 LGBTIQ+ activists from 12 SADC countries. The convening was held in hybrid form over 2 days. Twelve in-country partners collaboratively brought together LGBTIQ+ activists at a time when the global COVID-19 pandemic had halted CSO efforts to organise. The aim of the December 2020 conference was to jointly assess the socio-economic and political environment in the region and its impact on the LGBTIQ+ rights movement.


Pursuant to outcomes from the 2020 conference, the Out and Proud partners and UNDP hope to bring together 40 human rights defenders from across the SADC region for a physical conference in Johannesburg.


SADC LGBTIQ+ Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) Forum

The SADC LGBTIQ+ HRDs Forum seeks to further strengthen regional collaboration both at in-country, regional and at international level to foster positive change. The Forum will bring together LGBTIQ+ HRDs, representatives of LGBTIQ+ organisations, and regional networks to collectively draw up a regional advocacy agenda for the next two years. The Forum will also provide a powerful tool for media engagement and lobbying at national, regional, and international fora.


Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, activists can celebrate many litigation and advocacy successes, including the decriminalisation of same-sex sex in Botswana and prohibition of hate speech based on sexual orientation in South Africa. Activists are also engaged in ongoing litigation efforts in Mauritius, Namibia, Eswatini and Malawi to recognise the rights of LGBTQI+ persons to freedom of association and immigration rights. Sadly, there has also been significant setbacks, including moves to enhanced criminalisation in Ghana, impunity for violence against LGBTIQ+ persons, and a reduction in donor resources for LGBTIQ+ groups.



The main aim of the forum is for LGBTIQ+ activists to create alliances and solidarity networks at the regional level.


The objectives of the forum are:

(a)   To identify key priorities for a Regional LGBTIQ+ Agenda for Change;

(b)  To formulate strategies for advancing the rights of LGBTIQ+ persons; and

(c)   To forge and build regional solidarity among HRDs.



Due to pandemic restrictions, the Forum will be limited to 30 LGBTIQ+ HRDs from across SADC including: Eswatini (4), Malawi (4), Zimbabwe (4), South Africa (2), Zambia (2), Botswana (2), Lesotho (2), Mozambique (1), Angola (1), DRC (1), Comoros (1), Madagascar (1), Mauritius (1), Seychelles (1), Tanzania (1). SALC, UNDP and COSPE staff will be additional participants.



The Forum will take place over 3 days, with participants arriving the day before and departing the day after the events. Out and Proud partners will arrive on 27 February and depart on 9 March. French and Portuguese interpreters will be available at the venue and all materials will be translated in advance of the event. Contributions from hosts are encouraged to contribute to flight and accommodation costs from the Francophone and Lusophone countries, and translation services. Partners are also requested to support daily registration at the event, and to assist with document event proceedings.


Forum Agenda