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Despite differences between the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) in terms of the substantive rights guaranteed and machineries to enforce them, both instruments have been foundational in the establishment of organizations that share a common history of rejecting human rights complaints from homosexuals. Although the contemporary jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on homosexuality may contrast sharply with that of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACtHPR) and the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACmHPR) – because the ACtHPR and ACmHPR have never upheld a complaint relating to sexual orientation – the early history of the ECtHR and the former European Commission on Human Rights (ECmHR) mirrors the current African stance. This article explores what those seeking to develop gay and lesbian rights in Africa might usefully learn from the historical evolution of similar rights under the ECHR.