In Africa, organizations are actively working to defend the rights of LGBTQ+ communities, who often face severe marginalization and are highly vulnerable to gender and sexual orientation-based violence. This article explores their work, supported by the Feminists in Action initiative.

LGBTQ+ community flag on the front of the ORMS Madagascar premises – Photo credit: CARE Madagascar


Woman African Freedom (WAF) is working within the national feminist ecosystem to ensure the inclusion of lesbian women. Do women’s movements consider the life obstacles faced by lesbians? Do feminist spaces provide a place for lesbian women? These are fundamental questions that WAF strives to highlight by organizing workshops with other associations to ensure that all women are represented and all voices heard.

Through its Connexion Femmes project, WAF aims to change societal perceptions of lesbian women in Côte d’Ivoire. To achieve this, the association implements a range of activities, including a support and action unit against gender-based violence, identifying and documenting cases of lesbophobia, and providing support to victims. This comprehensive approach aims to create a long-term impact.


In Madagascar, effectively including and acknowledging all diversities within activist movements is also a significant challenge. Organisation Réseau Madagascar Solidarité (ORMS) recognizes the lack of visibility for lesbian women’s groups within its network. To address this, the association organizes peer workshops and discussion groups. ORMS also assists in structuring the lesbian women’s associations of the network so they can obtain legal registration, allowing them to apply for grants to fund their projects.

As associations, mobilizing to combat gender-based discrimination requires being self-critical and questioning one’s perceptions and behavior. Without the inclusion of everyone’s perspective and all realities, there cannot be a solid foundation for the fight for equality.


In Beninese society, patriarchal systems and social norms that reject the idea of multiple sexual orientations and gender identities are still dominant. This reality exposes young lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LBTQ) girls and women to various forms of violence and exclusion. They are particularly vulnerable to forced marriages, “corrective” rapes, and verbal and physical assaults.

To prevent violence against them and protect victims, the AFRO BENIN association organizes round tables with community leaders and the general public, runs awareness-raising campaigns, and offers comprehensive follow-up care to victims. Through these actions, the association addresses both prevention and support. AFRO BENIN’s project “My Body and Me,” supported by Feminists in Action, aims to educate communities through engaging sessions on comprehensive sexuality education and the right to bodily autonomy.

The existence of LGBTQ+ communities is still largely taboo, or even considered intolerable, in many African countries and communities. Defending the dignity of LGBTQ+ people, asserting their rights, and ensuring that they are respected is a particularly difficult and risky battle. The associations involved need our support!

The Criminalization of Homosexuality in Africa:

Across the African continent, the situation varies greatly by country. Some countries, like Ivory Coast, have never criminalized homosexuality. As of 2023, 27 countries criminalize and condemn homosexuality, and 4 countries still impose the death penalty for same-sex relations. 40 countries on the continent offer no legal protection for LGBTQ+ people. Like in Ivory Coast, homosexuality is not penalized in Madagascar and Benin. Read more about the criminalization of homosexuality in African countries.