Call for contributions to the Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation’s “Cultures and Colonialism” project


From the Filipino Indigenous community’s babaylan spiritual protectors, who interact with or are a blend of feminine and masculine spirits, to ogbanje individuals in Nigeria, diversity in sexual orientations and gender identities has existed everywhere throughout recorded history.”*

Knowledge about these cultures of openness has been buried and suppressed, and studied to only a limited degree – because colonialism put a violent end to it. Derived from British, French, or German imperial law, colonial legal systems introduced strict sex and gender norms and criminalized homosexuality. Missionary schools legitimized re-education and cultural suppression, and enforced Prussian and Victorian sexual mores. Homosexual activity was demonized.

As of the 1950s, these states achieved independence. But the colonial norms behind gender relations and morals have remained largely unchanged. It was only in the 2010s that countries such as Botswana and India succeeded in distancing themselves from British colonial law and in decriminalizing homosexuality. In June 2024 the Namibian High Court revoked the prohibition on same-sex relations.

Our “Cultures and Colonialism” project seeks to:

  • link political assessments of European colonial history with advocacy for LGBTIQ+ human rights
  • reveal the negative effects of colonial and missionary history on gender roles and LGBTIQ+ lives
  • refute the charge of ‘neocolonialism’ against LGBTIQ+ human rights work
  • show that LGBTIQ+ human rights work needs to take a decolonial approach and develop the relevant criteria

Call for contributions – the “Cultures and Colonialism” project therefore asks:

  • Are you researching precolonial gender relations?
  • Are you studying the effects of missionary work on gender roles and sexual norms?
  • Do you have experience with decolonial projects in international human rights work or development cooperation?
  • Can you facilitate contacts with universities or research groups in African countries that are working on LGBTIQ+ topics?

We are aware that these are very specialized questions, and therefore look forward all the more to your replies. Please send an email to: sarah.kohrt [at] hirschfeld-eddy-stiftung.de
Sarah Kohrt, Project Manager, Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation

* From the 2023 report by the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.


Project website

This event is part of the project “Cultures and Colonialism ‒ The struggle for LGBTIQ+ human rights in light of the decolonization debate” from the Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation.


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