“Fannyann fought for queer human rights, despite threats and great personal danger. Thanks to her efforts, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people in Sierra Leone have begun to achieve visibility. She helped lay the foundation for queer human rights in Sierra Leone,” he added.
Fannyann made a submission to the UN Committee on Human rights at the Geneva meeting in April this year which discussed the Brazilian Resolution, which would have acknowledged sexual orientation as a legitimate human right. In her impassioned presentation she highlighted the vigilante violence and State-sponsored oppression that lesbian and gay people face in many parts of Africa.
“We face constant harassment and violence from neighbours and others. Their homophobic attacks go unpunished by authorities, further encouraging their discriminatory and violent treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," she told the committee.
"Silence creates vulnerability. You, members of the Commission on Human Rights, can break the silence. You can acknowledge that we exist, throughout Africa and on every continent, and that human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity are committed every day. You can help us combat those violations and achieve our full rights and freedoms, in every society, including my beloved Sierra Leone," she continued.
There follows a statement of remembrance by Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), which worked closely with Fannyann Eddy and supported her work.
GALZ Remembers Fannyann Eddy
Harare – Zimbabwe, 4 October 2004
“The early death of anyone is tragic; when that someone is gruesomely murdered for seemingly no other reason than that she stood up for the rights and fought for the dignity of those who are marginalized and persecuted in Africa, it leaves us all with deep feelings of confusion and despair. Late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, Fanny Ann Eddy who founded the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association (SLLAGA) in 2002, was brutally raped by a gang of five men in her office where she was working late. They then stabbed her in the head and broke her neck.
“Fannyann was an activist in the real sense of the word. She dedicated herself to the cause of normalizing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in society through direct action and she was an example to those of us who play the victim and claim that nothing is possible in the hostile climates in which we exist. In 2002 she came to the GALZ Offices in Harare, Zimbabwe looking for assistance in the setting up of an LGBT group in her home country, Sierra Leone. It was obvious she had all the determination and willpower to do so. Even in Zimbabwe, where she was a refugee, she brushed with members of our police force and others who tried to threaten her because she was lesbian. Naturally, she refused to be intimidated.
“On returning to Sierra Leone, she quickly dedicated herself to the task of realizing her dream. At the first All-Africa Rights Initiative (AARI) conference in Johannesburg in February 2004, she recounted to a delegation of nearly 60 people from 22 LGBT groups in 17 African countries how she had recently managed to register her organization and open a bank account. She told her story with pride and the characteristic humour that always accompanied her efforts.
“When we had registered and I went to open a bank account for the organisation, the whole staff of the bank came out to have a look at me and I had to call the manager to make sure that I was actually served. Later, when I went to carry out a transaction at the bank and used just the account number as a reference, the teller told me in a very loud voice so that all the other customers were alerted that I had to say the name of the account. I did not give in but insisted on making the transaction using the account number as a reference.”
“All of us at GALZ are stunned and horrified by the news of her death: not only was her demise terrible and untimely, she was a leading light and strength within the whole AARI movement and we have lost a great source of inspiration. Let her death encourage us to redouble our efforts to make Africa a safe place for all LGBT people. For those who would seek to detract from the need for legal and constitutional protection at the highest international level for LGBT people, let Fannyann’s demise act as an agonising reminder to them as to why the Brazilian Resolution seeking this protection through the United Nations is so urgently necessary.
“Our hearts and minds are with those in SLLGA who have lost such a great leader and with Fannyann’s friends and family including those who would not be recognized or acknowledged as her family by general society.”
Keith Goddard and all the staff of the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ)