The first regional conference of the International Lesbian and Gay Association in Africa will take place in Johannesburg this weekend.

This gathering of a large number of activists dealing with the advancement of LGBT issues on the continent hopes to make further progress.

60 human rights and LGBTI activists from all corners of the African continent will gather to discuss ways to challenge state homophobia, lesbophobia and transphobia in Africa.

85 member states of the United Nations still criminalise consensual same-sex acts among adults, institutionally promoting a culture of hatred. 38 are African countries.

A report on state homophobia in Africa will be launched during the conference. The impressive collection of laws presented in this report is an attempt to show the extent of state homophobia in Africa.

“Although many of the countries listed in the report do not systematically implement those laws, their mere existence reinforces a culture where a significant portion of the citizens need to hide from the rest of the population out of fear,” said an ILGA spokesman.

“A culture where hatred and violence are somehow justified by the State and force people into invisibility or into denying who they truly are.

“Whether imported by colonial empires or the result of legislations culturally shaped by religious beliefs, if not deriving directly from a conservative interpretation of religious texts, homophobic laws are the fruit of a certain time and context in history.”

ILGA is a world-wide network of national and local groups dedicated to achieving equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.

Founded in 1978, it now has more than 560 member organisations. Every continent and around 90 countries are represented.