PhD defence by Travor Murai

Experiences of civil society organizations advocating for the rights of men who have sex with men in Zimbabwe
PhD student
Wednesday 22 Nov 2023, 15:00 - 17:00
PhD defence
Spoken Language
Aula B
International Institute of Social Studies
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Travor Murai

On 22 November 2023, Travor Murai will defend his thesis exploring the operationalization of Human Rights-based Approaches (HRBAs). The thesis uses the case of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) advocating for the Sexual Rights of Men who have Sex with Men (SR-MSM) in Zimbabwe.

In his thesis he explores how the political context within which donor-funded MSM projects are implemented, global funding rules, conditionalities, dependencies, capacities and constraints internal to CSOs, influence the nature and extent to which the CSOs operationalize HRBAs.

He shows that the Mugabe government mobilized homophobic tropes and tightened sodomy laws as a ploy to promote a homophobic national agenda and set the tone for cultural and religious debates regarding SR-MSM, all in the name of regime self-preservation. This had a significant adverse impact on the potential for HRBA operationalization.

Doctoral Board


Professor Arjun Bedi

Doctoral dissertation supervisors

Professor Wendy Harcourt
Dr Sylvia Bergh
Dr Silke Heumann

Full Doctoral Committee

  • Professor Frans Viljoen, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
  • Professor Emerita Rudo Gaidzanwa, University of Zimbabwe
  • Professor Marc Epprecht, School of Environmental Studies, Queen’s University

  • Professor Thea Hilhorst, ISS

  • Dr Karin Astrid Siegmann, ISS

More information

The ceremony will begin promptly at 15:00 hrs in the ISS auditorium (Aula B) of the ISS, Kortenaerkade 12, The Hague. The doors will be closed after the start of the Public Defence, but will be briefly opened after the candidate’s introduction to allow latecomers to enter.

Children under 7 years old are not allowed in the Aula during the first part of the ceremony.

The ceremony will be followed by a reception in the Atrium of the ISS.

Professors are invited to join the academic procession.

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