South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe

rainbow wall

LGBTIQA+ people all over the world are experiencing discrimination and an increased threat of violence. More than 80 countries have criminalised homosexuality or transgender identity, and in many countries attitudes towards LGBTIQA+ people are extremely hostile.

We are working with a LGBTIQA+ rights organisation in Zambia and Zimbabwe and an umbrella organisation for LGBTIQA+ organisations in South Africa. The aim of our work is to equip our partners with more tools for their own advocacy work to promote the rights of LGBTIQA+ people and to enable them to support the LGBTIQA+ people they reach more effectively.

South Africa

Legally, the rights of LGBTIQA+ people are already fairly well protected in South Africa, where the law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual or gender identity. Same-sex marriages were allowed in 2006 and the country was the first to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in its constitution. Gender affirming surgery is also possible and legal in South Africa.

However, negative attitudes and discrimination are still widespread despite the protection offered by the law. LGBTIQA+ people face verbal and physical threats and outright violence in their daily lives. Traditional and conservative social attitudes continue to stigmatise LGBTIQA+ people


In Zambia, legislation criminalises same-sex relationships, homosexuality and the visibility of LGBTIQA+ people. Same-sex sexual relations can carry a prison sentence of up to ten years. Society’s attitudes towards LGBTIQA+ people are strongly negative and homosexuality, for example, is seen as immoral.

Legislation and social attitudes also prevent LGBTIQA+ people from accessing the health care they need, as health care staff are reluctant to offer them HIV testing and counselling, among other things, for fear of possible sanctions. Nor does the legislation allow for gender affirmation.


The state of civil society in Zimbabwe is very narrow and the state is further restricting the activities of human rights defenders. Also in Zimbabwe, legislation criminalises same-sex relationships and sexuality. For example, consensual sex between men can result in a one-year prison sentence or a fine. Same-sex marriage is prohibited by the constitution, and the law does not specifically protect the rights of LGBTIQA+ people.

Social attitudes towards LGBTIQA+ people are very negative and LGBTIQA+ issues are taboo. Hate speech against LGBTIQA+ people is very common and both politicians and religious communities speak openly against the rights of LGBTIQA+ people.

With the support from Finland's development cooperation