Freedom of Association and Assembly are constitutionally guaranteed rights under Chapter IV: on Human Rights and Freedoms. Article 39 of the Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda provides the Right to freedom of association by stating that 'The right to freedom of association is guaranteed and does not require prior authorisation. This same legislation under Article 40 Provides for the Right to freedom of assembly. It is stated that 'The right to freedom of peaceful and unarmed assembly is guaranteed. ' The same rights are also enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
In recent past occurrences of the violation of these rights and freedoms have been rampant, directly aimed at members and convening’s belonging to LGBTI/Q organizations.
Human Rights First Rwanda Association has undertaken awareness drives and providing legal support to aggrieved members of the community on these fundamental principles and their application towards the respect of sexual minority rights.
With retributive legislation still gripping the neighbouring states in the East African Region, many members of the LGBTI/Q community face the harms of stigma and abuse. As the members of the LGBTI/Q community facing persecution, many come to Rwanda seeking Asylum. Rwanda having no punitive legislation there is an influx of the LGBTI/Q community members is a safe haven and hence seek refuge in more tolerable ground. Human Rights First Rwanda Association is at hand to provide advise and aid in the process of the acquisition of refugee status. Working hand in hand with the authorities involved a better life for the LGBTI/Q peers from partnering states. With the objective that their lives can return to some form of normalcy, the efforts made in support of well-wishers and allies become the difference to safe space and livelihood for Sexual Minorities in the East African Region.
The full and equal participation of LGBT people in society remains hampered by persistent prejudice, lack of legal and civil equality, and the actions of a well-organized, politically powerful minority dedicated to enforcing inferior status on the LGBT population. The legal and social environment in Rwanda continues to be extremely discriminatory and violent against sexual minorities I.e Lesbians, Gays Bisexual and transgender people (hereinafter LGBT). Great stigma and discrimination occurs against these people who are either unable or unwilling to hide the fact that they have sex with partners of the same sex or sell their bodies for monetary gain. The adverse effects include eviction from families and neighborhood, loss of jobs and housing, discrimination in the health and Justices services, and a high level of violence. As a consequence many sexual minority members in Rwanda are among the poorest and most marginalized members of society, and have no social safety net or legally constituted Associations of their own to defend them when their rights are violated by both state actors and non-state actors .
It is against this background that human Rights First Rwanda Association began organizing empowerment drives and meetings from August 2018 with LGBT community members to sensitize them on their rights as enshrined in the constitution and other International ratified Human rights documents like the International conventional on civil and political rights so as to be at the forefront in advocating for their rights to association.
Rwanda has ratified many international human Rights legal instruments including the international convention of civil and political rights the principle of non-discrimination underpins the protection of individuals under the International convention on civil and political rights (ICCPR) , regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Under Article 2(1), state parties are required to “undertake to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property birth or other status”
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