Cultures and Colonialism - The struggle for the human rights of LGBTIQ+ in the light of the debate on decolonization

European colonialism in the 18th and 19th centuries imposed rigid gender roles and criminalized same sex relationships. This era saw the suppression of existing cultures that had embraced diverse gender identities and relationships. Consequently, colonial rule led to widespread penalization of homosexuality, transgender and non-binary expressions, and on going discrimination and persecution. While some progress has been made in decriminalizing same-sex relationships in Europe, many former colonies still struggle with laws that violate the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people. Despite recent efforts by European and other countries to promote LGBTIQ+ rights globally, conservative forces in African countries often resist, thereby perpetuating human rights violations. This underscores the urgent need for trans-continental solidarity and a shift towards decolonial approaches in international human rights advocacy. This project discusses colonialism’s impact on and postcolonial international cooperation.

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Cultures and Colonialism - The struggle for the human rights of LGBTIQ+ in the light of the debate on decolonization

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New project by the Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation in 2024

How does European colonialism continue to affect the lives of queer people in countries that once were colonized? One legacy of missionary and colonial history is the criminalization of homosexual acts and non-binary ways of life. The fight against these criminal statutes is being led by people in the formerly colonized countries. The desire for freedom is coming from these countries themselves. Local movements view decriminalization as an act of decolonialization.

Paradoxically, precisely this advocacy for women’s and LGBTIQ+ human rights is being discredited as “neocolonial”. We ask: Can development cooperation and international work for LGBTIQ+ human rights be decolonial in practice? What should that look like? What effects does missionary history still have on gender roles to this day?

We discuss these issues, present research results, and collect approaches to decolonial international project work with and for LGBTIQ+ people.

“Cultures and Colonialism – The fight for LGBTIQ+ human rights and the debate on decolonialization” is a project by the Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation in 2024.

>>Go to the detailed project report

Project Manager: Sarah Kohrt

LGBTIQ+ Platform for Human Rights, Hirschfeld-Eddy-Foundation

Would you like invitations to events? Opportunities to join networking sessions and background talks? Or information about LGBTIQ+ projects in general?
Contact: sarah.kohrt(at)

Everyone interested is warmly invited to contact us and all are welcome to contribute.



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Find all background articles relating to this project in our blog under Tag KuK-2024