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Mozambique: Former leader urges end to anti-gay discrimination

Joaquim Chissano tells African leaders to 'advance the trajectory for basic freedoms'

Joaquim Chissano, a former president of Mozambique, urges African leaders to end discrimination on a number of grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity as they set new development priorities for the continent. Credit: wikipedia.org

"We can no longer afford to discriminate against people on the basis of age, sex, ethnicity, migrant status, sexual orientation and gender identity, or any other basis — we need to unleash the full potential of everyone," a former president of Mozambique has said in an open letter to African leaders published on The Africa Report's website.

Joaquim Chissano, who is co-chair of a task force for the International Conference on Population and Development, says he "understands the resistance to these ideas" but notes that an overview of human history shows a trend toward an expansion of human rights.

Chissano's perspective runs counter to the course of events unfolding in countries like Nigeria and Uganda, where lawmakers have voted for anti-gay legislation that further criminalizes homosexuality.

Chissano identifies the development priorities on which African leaders should focus attention, one of which is ensuring the sexual and reproductive health and rights of the continent's people.

"This simply means granting everyone the freedom — and the means — to make informed decisions about very basic aspects of one's life — one's sexuality, health and if, when and with whom to have relationships, marry or have children — without any form of discrimination, coercion or violence," he says.

"This also implies convenient, affordable access to quality information and services and to comprehensive sexuality education."