In May 2007, the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) hosted a conference in Johannesburg with the aim of establishing an organisation affiliated with them on the African continent — a Pan Africa ILGA (PAI).


The African caucus had to determine the ILGA-Africa constitution and one of the decisions was to establish the Pan Africa ILGA (PAI) board, the number of board members, and their regional representation, as well as the representation of identities relating to sexuality diversity. In terms of regional representation, the caucus emphasised that because the continent is huge and diverse in cultures, experiences, and issues, giving attention to diversity was one way to ensure regional representation. At first, there was a motion that there should be 10 board members, 2 each from North, South, East, West, and Central African regions. In relation to the representation of sexuality identities, the caucus decided that each region should be represented by board members equally divided between gays and lesbians. At this point, a handful of activists advocated for the inclusion of one more board member who could be from any region, but who identifies as trans or intersex. This motivation influenced the PAI Board to agree to this inclusion, thereby broadening the scope of PAI to include diversity of gender identity, gender expression, and sexual characteristics.

At that stage, there were not many outspoken, self-identified trans or intersex activists on the continent of Africa, and as a trans activist, Liesl Theron, although not identifying as trans or intersex, was nominated for the position of the trans/intersex board member. After robust deliberations with other activists at the meeting, Liesl agreed to accept the nomination on the condition that her position on the board had to be a temporary one. Irrespective of the length of board term stated in PAI’s constitution, Liesl stipulated that she would only sit on the PAI Board for a period of 1 year, giving PAI time to search for an African activist who identifies as trans or intersex. This created lengthy deliberations during the meeting, as the constitution had to be in line with other regional constitutions (i.e. term of board members and regional representation), but Liesl’s stipulation was finally agreed upon.

The inclusion of an additional board position to ensure trans or intersex representation was a milestone achievement for African trans and intersex activists, the trans and intersex movement in Africa, and the African LGBTIQ+ movement as a whole. Liesl resigned from the PAI Board in March 2008.  


PAI is a federation of organisations in Africa working to improve human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE). PAI holds annual regional conferences in different locations in Africa. Its third regional conference, the biggest African LGBTIQ+ conference at the time, was held in Botswana in June 2018.


A Pan African movement that promotes and respects bodily integrity and equal protection of human rights regardless of culture, religion and faith, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics.


To unify and strengthen LGBTI organising in Africa in order to challenge state legislation that impedes SOGIE-related work.


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