At the instigation of Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, the Federal Foreign Office has invited gay-rights activists from 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa on a fact-finding trip entitled “Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender People (LGBT) in Germany”. The visit is part of the Federal Government’s Visitors Programme. The aim of the visit is to discover more effective possible methods for work in human rights, establish networks as well as exchange and develop knowledge, ideas and strategies. The intention is also to familiarize participants with the developments which led in Germany to the social acceptance of sexual minorities.Markus Löning and Klaus Jetz (Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation) issued the following statement on the subject in Berlin today (22 November):
“The worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality is a core human rights concern. To achieve it, however, we need to go beyond purely political contacts and efforts at persuasion. It is a matter of creating the potential for openness in society wherever possible throughout the world. Education and the development of networks both have an essential role to play here. This visit is an important step, which we hope will lead to tangible progress for the work of the activists in Africa.”
Homosexuality is illegal in 38 African countries. Sentences range from many years in prison to the death penalty. During their week-long visit, the participants will meet for talks with high-level representatives from the Federal Government, the German Bundestag and civil society. Markus Löning is hosting a joint press conference with the Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation at the Federal Foreign Office on Thursday 25 November at 3.30 p.m.