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It is striking that it is formerly British colonies (Tanzania, Nigeria, and Uganda are three who have made headlines in recent years), that have been historically particularly cruel towards LGBT people.This probably tells us much about the legacies of puritanical values of Victorian Britain with restrictive laws created by settler colonists, and how they have been adopted by native Africans against other native Africans with detrimental consequences.While recognizing the limited effect that a change in the law will have on the lived reality of LGBT people, we can’t underestimate how changing of laws creates avenues for citizens to have recourse when they are victimized.The change of laws in post-apartheid South Africa has had profound effect on the sense of belonging of LGBT citizens in South Africa.It is a move in the right direction towards justice and human rights.Angola provides a progressive roadmap for the other 33 or so African nations that still criminalise same-sex intimacies.Of course, one has to be cautiously optimistic because we know that decriminalisation and the banning of discrimination based on sexual orientation is only addressing part of the problem.

Hope, then, is important in the troubled times we live in, times of increased fascism (United States anyone) and authoritarianism (did someone say Brazil), where human rights are undermined in the most disturbingly glaring ways.The news was widely welcomed, and people around the world rejoiced for the progressive movement that Angola was taking in acknowledging the humanity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Angola.As I was reading about the decriminalisation and the banning of discrimination based on sexual orientation, I kept on thinking about John Comaroff’s words about hope, and how Angola’s move instils a sense hope with regards to LGBT politics on the African continent.Many LGBT people, and LGBT activists in Tanzania were reported as going into hiding fearing for the lives.The LGBT victory in Angola is not insignificant, considering the recent troubles in Tanzania; considering the unsuccessful introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014, a bill that was widely known as the “kill the gays bill” in Uganda; considering the targeting of transgender people by the Trump administration in the United States; considering the prosecution of LGBT people by the Nigerian government; considering the continuous murder of transgender people in Brazil; considering the homophobia and physical violence still faced by LGBT people in South Africa – despite the fact that same-sex marriage is legal here; considering the rounding-up and torture of LGBT people in Russia; considering the rounding-up and torture of LGBT people in Chechnya; considering the reported story of a man who was raped, reported the rape to officials and was then subsequently charged with same-sex relations under the penal code in Tunisia, a code that carries the penalty of 4 years in prison.

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