Gay Sierra Leone News & Reports

| Thursday, January 1st, 2009 | Comments Off

1 Sierra Leone activist Fannyann Eddy killed 11/04

2 Sierra Leone activist FannyAnn Eddy’s killer caught 1/05

3 Police say no hate crime in gay activist murder 1/05

4 Alleged Fannyann Eddy Murderer Reportedly Escapes Police in Sierra Leone 7/05

4a Protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender 10/07

5 African lesbian conference demands equal rights 2/08

6 Lesbian Immigrant Florence Saved 3/08

7 Doctor practices what his faith preaches 9/09 (non-gay background story)

8 Breaking The Silence: Government Study Of MSM In Sierra Leone 7/11

9 Interview Leads to Homophobic and Trans-phobic reaction 11/11


The Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation (Hirschfeld-Eddy-Stiftung) was founded in Berlin in June 2007. It is a Foundation for the Human Rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender people.

The Foundation’s name remembers two personalities who are important for the worldwide struggle for the Human Rights of queer people: Dr Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935), after the German physician, sexologist, sexual reformer and civil rights activist and FannyAnn Eddy (1974-2004), the prominent lesbian human rights activist from Sierra Leone, who was murdered in 2004.



November 01, 2004

1
Sierra Leone activist Fannyann Eddy
killed-African lesbian activist is raped and murdered

"Yet, despite all of the difficulties we face, I have faith that acknowledging the inherent dignity and respect due us can lead to greater respect for our human rights.… Silence creates vulnerability. I urge you, members of the Commission on Human Rights, to break the silence. You can help us achieve our full rights and freedoms, in every society, including my beloved Sierra Leone." -Delivered to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights by Fannyann Eddy, Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association, April 2004 on behalf of MADRE.

Statement by International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

Fannyann Eddy broke the silence for us all. She courageously brought the struggle for freedom and dignity in her own country to the world stage. In early October, that voice was silenced forever. As Fannyann worked late in her office in Freetown, several men broke in, raped and brutally murdered her. To all of us who knew her and shared the great privilege of her wit, sense of the absurd, steely determination, intelligence, and unwillingness to let bureaucracy and lies stand in the way of justice, our loss is incomprehensibly great. Fannyann was the fearless leader of the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association.

She understood that freedom for women, in particular lesbians, was related to their ability to provide for themselves economically. As a result, her approach to human rights advocacy included putting her own money into buying materials for young lesbians to make clothing and other items that they could sell for income. She understood that human rights is not only a legal principle to be enforced but a measure of human dignity to be demanded. As a result, she dedicated much of her time to getting into schools to teach children about their own self worth.

And she understood that standing up for our rights is a process of both large and small acts. When she encountered difficulty getting a visa to travel to Geneva to tell her story to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Fannyann sat vigil until it was approved. The staff and board of IGLHRC (International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission) deeply mourn her loss. She was a member of the historic delegation that IGLHRC and Human Rights Watch brought to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva last spring to advocate for the Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Human Rights.

Fannyann worked doggedly to track down her government’s representatives and pushed them to support the resolution. With her testimony to the entire Commission, she boldly presented the personal embodiment of the existence of lesbians in Africa that many African leaders sought to deny. She shared with us both hilarious stories about her experiences as an organizer in Sierra Leone, along with serious strategies for change. Fannyann brought a level of courage, boldness and tenacity to her work that is rare even among human rights activists known for all three.

Fannyann Viola Eddy was 30 years old. Her nine-year old son has lost a doting and loving mother. Sierra Leone has lost a brave and visible leader. The global LGBT movement has lost a daring and fierce human rights defender.

Our best tribute to Fannyann is now to speak out. IGLHRC and our colleagues are actively investigating the details of her death and the level of responsiveness from the government and police. Once that is done, an Action Alert will be posted to our website, www.iglhrc.org, and sent to our Emergency Response Network asking people to respond to this senseless murder.

In the meantime, Behind the Mask is collecting donations to support Fannyann’s son and the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association.

Details may be obtained by writing to Daniel@m….

Paula Ettelbrick, Executive Director and Susana Fried, Program Director, IGLHRC



Lorena Espinoza / afrol Newsafrol News

2
Sierra Leone activist FannyAnn Eddy’s killer caught

Killer of Sierra Leone lesbian activist charged
FannyAnn Eddy (1974-2004)

Authorities in Sierra Leone have detained and charged the suspected killer of FannyAnn Eddy, the country’s outspoken campaigner for gay and lesbian rights. The suspected killer is said to be a disgruntled ex-employee of Ms Eddy and the murder is thus not anymore put in connection with her human rights work. The Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association (SLLAGA), which was founded by Ms Eddy in 2002, has reported that the principal suspect in the murder of the SLLAGA leader was been arrested in December. The assumed killer was charged with two counts by Sierra Leonean police; murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

The accused is said to be a disgruntled janitorial worker whom Ms Eddy had fired weeks prior to the murder. At the time of his dismissal, the accused is reported to have threatened to "take revenge" on Ms Eddy. It is believed that at least one other person was involved in the crime. The Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Sierra Leone Police Force has expressed its commitment to investigating the possibility of a bias crime. At this time, however, the evidence that they have collected suggests that the principal motive was robbery.

The progress in Ms Eddy’s murder case was welcomed by the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), which had learnt of these developments in end-December by its colleagues at Human Rights Watch and at SLLAGA. IGLHRC commended the CID’s "responsiveness to international protocols for the investigation of a bias motive. We will continue to monitor and report on the proceedings of the case," the group said in a statement.

FannyAnn Eddy, aged 30, was found dead on the morning of 29 September 2004. While she was working alone in the SLLAGA’s offices in Freetown the previous night, her assailants had apparently broken in to the premises. She was raped repeatedly, stabbed and her neck was broken. Ms Eddy was Sierra Leone’s most outstanding activist for the rights of sexual minorities, founding the SLLAGA in 2002. The group is providing social and psychological support to a fearful and underground community of gays and lesbians in Sierra Leone. Ms Eddy was lobbying government ministers to address the health and human rights needs sexual minorities. She left behind a 10-year-old son.

Click here to read the original article http://www.afrol.com/articles/15124



6 January, 2005 – Gay.com UK

3
Police say no hate crime in gay activist murder

by Ben Townley,
Police in Sierra Leone have declared that the murder of gay rights activist FannyAnn Eddy was not based on any opposition to her sexuality, drawing links instead with a former employee. The Criminal Investigation Division of the Sierra Leone Police Force says that the murder, which took place last year, could not be blamed on homophobia, despite Eddy being the country’s most prominent gay rights activist.

Ms Eddy was killed last year, with initial reports suggesting that she had been found strangled and raped in the head office of the country’s LGBT activist group. The police have also discounted the reports of sexual violence, afrol.com reports, claiming that there was no evidence of abuse of sexual violence found on her body. UK activist group Outrage, which organised a vigil in London for Ms Eddy late last year, said that the international gay community should accept these new comments with caution.

" It draw to mind the murder of the activist Brian Williamson in Jamaica, where police also said this was a ‘normal murder’, and not to do with him being gay," a spokesperson told Gay.com today. " This was despite the fact that people were dancing and shouting outside his house after his death," he added.

He said that the group would "definitely not" trust the local police force, adding that "there doesn’t seem to be any motive" that they could accept. Additionally, he added that the loss of Ms Eddy was still being felt in the African country. " In a part of the world where gay rights activists are thin on the ground – especially prominent ones – her death is nothing short of a tragedy."



July 15, 2005 – From IGLHRC

4
Alleged Fannyann Eddy Murderer Reportedly Escapes Police Detention in Sierra Leone

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has learned that the man being held in the murder of Sierra Leonean lesbian activist, Fannyann Eddy, has reportedly escaped from police detention. Mr. Sankoh, 19, had been in custody and awaiting trial in the High Court of Freetown

Fannyann Eddy, a highly visible, charismatic and courageous human rights defender, was violently murdered on September 29, 2004 in the offices of the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association (SLLGA), the group she founded. In early November, Sankoh, was arrested and charged with Fannyann’s murder and conspiracy to commit murder. According to press reports relayed by IGLHRC’s court monitor in the case, an undisclosed number of prisoners escaped from court holding cells on Monday July 11. IGLHRC has learned that Mr. Sankoh was reported to be among them and is seeking further confirmation.

“This is an extremely disheartening turn of events and a blow to our efforts to pursue justice and accountability for human rights atrocities committed against gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people,” Paula Ettelbrick, Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said. “We feel most terribly for Fannyann’s family and friends who have endured so much as a result of her murder.” Fearful that Fannyann’s murder may have been motivated by anti-LGBT bias, IGLHRC worked with a range of allies in the weeks after her death, including members of SLLGA and Corinne Dufka of the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, to stay in touch with police investigators in Freetown and to urge vigilance in solving the case. IGLHRC was extremely grateful for the full cooperation of the police investigators who identified and arrested Mr. Sankoh late last year.

Within the last few months, IGLHRC became increasingly concerned about consistent postponements of the legal proceedings against Mr. Sankoh. Working with local human rights advocates, IGLHRC engaged the services of a leading human rights attorney to monitor the preliminary investigation that was examining prima facie evidence for the matter to be sent up to the High Court for trial. IGLHRC has also been concerned that it appears that Sankoh did not act alone in the killing of Fannyann but no other suspects have been arrested. It was the monitor who alerted IGLHRC of the defendant’s apparent escape a few days ago.

“While we understand that the Sierra Leonean judicial and penal systems are being rebuilt after eight years of civil war,” said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC’s Senior Specialist for Africa, “there is no excuse for letting a potentially violent suspect, on trial for a brutal murder, escape from police custody.” It is still unclear whether Fannyann’s killing was a hate crime. The fact that the murder was committed in the offices of a lesbian and gay organization sent shock waves throughout Africa’s burgeoning LGBT community. IGLHRC had hoped that testimony during the trial would have made clear any biases of the perpetrators.

“Once it is confirmed that Mr. Sankoh has escaped, we will work with police investigators to take all appropriate and legal policing measures to bring him back into custody and to arrest any other suspects,” said Ettelbrick. “We want a free and fair trial, not only for Fannyann but for all LGBT people in Sierra Leone.”



October 2007 – globalhumanrights.org

Grantee Profile: Dignity Association (formerly Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association)

4a
Protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Sierra Leoneans

Sierra Leone is emerging from a civil war which tore the country apart. Violent crime remains high, and the police force and judicial system barely function in most of the country. In this conflict-ridden environment, Sierra Leone’s lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are very much at risk, facing violence, harassment, and discrimination, with police often refusing to investigate crimes against LGBT people. Founded in 2002, Dignity Association works to end discrimination by the government, police, medical system and schools. The group also provides psychological and medical support to a fearful and underground LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community.

Working in Sierra Leone’s deeply conservative and traditional society, Dignity faces constant set-backs and barriers. In late 2004, the organization suffered a huge loss when its founder and director, Fanny Ann Eddy, was raped and murdered in the organization’s offices. Activists suspect her murder was because of her visible activism on the rights of LGBT individuals in Sierra Leone. Her brutal murder sent an immediate chill through Sierra Leone’s LGBT community. In addition, the willingness of these activists to raise unpopular issues makes them a target of official and social hostility, which sometimes threatens to shut them down. Last year, for example, the Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs refused to renew Dignity’s registration as an NGO. LGBT rights are so taboo that government officials and even other human rights organizations have refused to meet with Dignity staff.

In the photo to the left, Dignity supporter Bather Whitfield speaks at the organization’s branch opening in Makeni, Sierra Leone. She is one of Dignity’s 120 members. The branch opening was only possible after months of outreach with local organizations. Dignity will use the office to provide health education and help LGBT victims of violence.

In Sierra Leone, the government and society prefer to deny the existence of lesbians and gay men. One consequence of this denial is that LGBT people don’t have access to life saving information on and health care for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In its outreach with gay men and male sex workers in Freetown and the northern city of Makeni, Dignity has found disturbingly low levels of knowledge of HIV and STIs. In recent interviews with gay men in Makeni, only about a third had basic information about HIV/AIDS and its transmission; many were unaware of how to use a condom.

This lack of basic knowledge about HIV/AIDS in Makeni continues despite the National AIDS Secretariat’s outreach and training in the area. Dignity staff believe that gay men and women are afraid to attend workshops for fear of being publicly identified. Therefore, Dignity staff are working with the AIDS Secretariat to reach LGBT communities and provide health information that responds to their needs. Through this outreach, Dignity makes contact with frightened and isolated members of the community and helps them receive other support from the association. In Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, Dignity also provides access to low cost medical care for gay men when public hospitals refuse to treat them.

Dignity challenges the perception that there are no gay men and lesbians in Sierra Leone by raising the visibility of the LGBT community. Dignity participates in radio programs broadcast across the country on gender-based violence, speaking out against attacks on gay men and lesbians. Within a difficult context, Dignity plays a critical role in providing a safe space for gay men and lesbians to meet and conduct workshops on HIV/AIDS and physical safety. Despite great personal risk, Dignity activists continue their efforts to change mindsets and win respect for the basic rights of the LGBT community.



27th February 2008 – PinkNews

5
African lesbian conference demands equal rights

by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
Lesbians from across Africa have held a conference in Mozambique to highlight the homophobia and prejudice they face across the continent. Most nations in Africa criminalise same-sex relationships and in some countries gay people can be put to death. The Coalition of African Lesbians conference was attended by more than 100 delegates.

Women from 14 African countries gathered in Namibia’s capital Windhoek in August 2004 to develop the Coalition of African Lesbians. Lesbian organisations and a number of individual women from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia are members of the organisation. "Our main goal is that lesbian and homosexuality can no longer be seen as a criminal offence," the group’s director and conference spokeswoman Fikile Vilakazi told Reuters. "You should not be arrested and charged for how you use your own body."

The coalition lobbies for political, legal social, sexual, cultural and economic rights of African lesbians by engaging strategically with African and international structures and allies and to eradicate stigma and discrimination against lesbians. South Africa, one of the few countries on the continent where gay men and lesbians are allowed to marry and legally protected from discrimination, has been rocked by several murders of prominent lesbian activists.

Sizakele Sigasa, 34, an activist for HIV/AIDS and LGBT rights, and Salome Masooa, 24, were discovered dead at field in Soweto, Johannesburg, on July 8th. They had both been shot and, it is suspected, raped. On 22nd July Thokozane Qwabe, 23, was found in a field in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal with multiple head wounds. She was naked and it is thought she was also raped.



March 25, 2008 – LGF News

6
Lesbian Immigrant Florence Saved

by Mask Admin
Sierra Leone – The tireless fighting efforts of staff and volunteers from Manchester’s Lesbian Community Project have successfully paid off after the government’s decision to extradite lesbian immigrant Florence and her son Michael from this country was overturned. The decision which has just been announced is the result of months of fundraising, hours of petition signing, letter writing and lobbying by the groups team, as well as the continued input from hundreds of supporters. Florence came to the UK in 2006 seeking asylum for herself and her young son, after fleeing from her home in Sierra Leone because she was suffering physical abuse from her family including beatings by her parents and rape by her cousin, who she had also been forced to marry. The Lesbian Community Project have been working with her since August 2006.

Karen McCarthy from the Lesbian Community Project told Pink Paper: “When Florence turned to the police for help they turned her away, saying it was a family matter. She tried to find a safe place to stay but could not and was forced to return home to face more abuse and violence including being threatened with female genital mutilation to ‘cure’ her.” Lisa Buklovskis, also from the Lesbian Community Project commented: “Florence came to us with her story and as a member of our community, we wanted to support her in whatever way we could.

”When the news came that Florence and Michael had been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK, we were absolutely elated! All the hard work and tireless campaigning had finally paid off. It means that Florence and Michael can now look forward to a future free from fear of persecution. In a country like Sierra Leone, where it is illegal to be gay, the persecution that Florence would have faced had she have been deported, is difficult for us to contemplate here in the UK where our relative freedoms as lesbians and gay men are a world apart.”

For more information about Florence’s story please contact Lisa at the Lesbian Community Project on 0161 273 7128 or e-mail lesbiancommunityproject@hotmail.com

 



September 21, 2009 – The Los Angeles Times

7
Doctor practices what his faith preaches

Cedars-Sinai cardiologist Dr. Lawrence Czer makes regular trips to Africa with his Christian church to help the needy by providing free medical care.

by Carla Hall
On his medical missions to Africa, Dr. Lawrence Czer has dealt with poverty, lack of electricity, bad accommodations — and military checkpoints. In Sierra Leone, Czer and his team were sometimes stopped by rifle-toting soldiers who simply wouldn’t let them through.

"They’ll just have you stand there and you’ll see other people going through," Czer said. The medical team refused to give the soldiers any money. All they could do was try to cajole them. "Or shame them," the doctor said. "We tell them, ‘Listen, we’re giving free medical care to your people. Now, what are you doing holding us up from doing that?’ " It worked. For more than a decade, Czer, an otherwise genteel, soft-spoken cardiologist, has been a key part of the medical teams organized and sent by his church, the Lighthouse Church of Santa Monica, to some of the poorest, most war-ravaged countries in Africa. The trips, which began with a mission to Gambia in 1998, are now made at least twice a year.

The heart is the doctor’s specialty. Czer, pronounced like "Caesar," is medical director of the heart transplant program at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. But in Africa, he functions more like an overburdened general practitioner, seeing up to 100 people a day with maladies that include broken bones, malaria, parasites, serious burns and high blood pressure. Czer was raised Catholic in the San Fernando Valley and educated by nuns and brothers. As an adult he joined the Protestant evangelical Lighthouse Church, an outpost of the Foursquare denomination. He and his wife were drawn to the church’s search for a "practical Christianity," he said. And that is what motivates him to make the trips to Africa.

"We don’t stay in great hotels. We’re with the people. We don’t exclude anybody. We see the poorest of the poor. We lay hands on people. We touch people. We tell them we love them," he said. "We think that’s what, probably, Jesus would do if he were walking the earth at this point."

In addition to Gambia and Sierra Leone, the church’s medical expeditions have traveled to Burundi, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fall mission next month — which Czer will probably not be on — travels back to Gambia. The church’s bigger spring trip is often to Sierra Leone, where medical team members have set up their temporary clinics in several towns. Beyond medical services, the church has provided expertise and raised funds to build schools, churches and water projects.

The medical teams make it a point to revisit communities. "We like to know the people, establish relationships, get to know the country," said Czer, 58, sitting in his small office at Cedars. His desk is stacked with papers. Nearby is a framed photo of his seven children, all wearing airy white. His older children, as well as his wife, Kari, a kindergarten teacher, have at times accompanied him on his trips.

"Lawrence is the most understated guy you will ever meet," said Robert Hamilton, a Santa Monica pediatrician, fellow Lighthouse Church member and medical coordinator of the Africa visits. Czer is the counterpart, for adult patients, to Hamilton and other pediatricians on the trips, where often half those served are children. "He’s so good at African medicine," Hamilton said. "He provides a tremendous ballast for the trips."

The church missions focus on places where medical help is most needed. Hamilton called the needs of post-war Sierra Leone "mind boggling." "When you go to Africa, you kind of grow up in some ways: ‘Oh, this is what the world is like,’ " said Hamilton, 56. But they also specifically choose places where there are Christian churches to help the teams set up, explain the lay of the land and advise on potential dangers.

Many of the people in the countries they visit are Muslims or followers of traditional African religions. That stops the medical missionaries neither from treating them nor from teaching them about Christianity — though not necessarily simultaneously. "What we’re trying to do is demonstrate Christianity," said Czer. "We’re not actively proselytizing. Our job is to bring dignity — and let the local pastor do the rest."

Rob Scribner, the pastor of Czer’s church, generally does not go along on the medical missions but makes trips at other times, during which he preaches to all comers. When he asks people if they want to be prayed for, they often readily agree, no matter their religion, he says. "They have so little, they have nothing. They’re thinking ‘Am I going to eat?’ We’ve been sending rice for years to our churches so we could feed people," Scribner said.

Hamilton estimates that each mission costs about $35,000 in medications. The participants, who volunteer their time, generally pay for their own airfare and lodging. The church picks up the cost of medicines and supplies, holding fundraisers to help. A recently opened thrift store (at 1727 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica) provides some funds as well. As a young couple, Czer and his wife, Kari, who was raised Greek Orthodox, "were seeking a better way to see what God was saying," he said. He tried her religion but "I just could not understand the liturgy," he said.

Now married 30 years, the couple found in the Lighthouse Church more emphasis on reading the Bible and less on the "ritual and the big buildings" of their previous churches, Czer said. He misses some of those rituals. But Czer said of the Lighthouse Church, "For what we were going through at the time, it really addressed our needs." They joined the church more than 20 years ago.

"I wouldn’t be doing this, probably, if it weren’t for reading the Bible and trying to understand what God wants us to do," Czer said of his medical forays to Africa. "I wouldn’t have that depth of understanding."

carla.hall@latimes.com



July 15th, 2011 – Behind The Mask

8
Breaking The Silence: Government Study Of MSM In Sierra Leone

by Akoro Joseph Sewedo, Arcus Correspondent
The National HIV/Aids Secretariat of Sierra Leone, which falls under the National HIV/Aids Control Program (NACP) recently conducted a study on Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) around the country. The 2011 study on MSM in Sierra Leone has broken the silence on the existence of sexual minorities in Sierra Leone. Findings from this survey revealed several problems affecting sexual minorities, especially MSM in Sierra Leone. The issue of labeling amongst MSM in Sierra Leone came up very strongly during the study. The report concluded that while society may be very quick to conclude of the sexual orientation of an men who have sex with other men, some MSM respondents do not connect their sexual practices with being “gay.”

Some respondents insisted on the “heterosexual” identity and preferred it to remain like that. What this mean for programmers is that, there is need to be cautious in labeling in any intervention that targets MSM, for maximum impact. The study also found that mltiple partnering is very common amongst MSM in Sierra Leone. Not only did respondents profess multiple male partnering, the study also reveal a bisexual concurrency. The study also found that transactional sex exists amongst MSM, with both male and female clients. According to the findings, “the legal and policy environment, which criminalises sexual minorities and their behavior, acts as an incitement to society to discriminate against sexual minorities. In addition, this has an adverse effect on sustainability of HIV response and public health in general.

“The findings also show that there is a high level of ignorance because sexuality and sexual rights issues are not openly discussed The implication of this ignorance is that intolerant behaviors have developed against sexual minorities and same-sex sexual practices, including those that do not infringe on the rights of others in Sierra Leone. The legal, policy and knowledge climate must be made conducive to create the requisite environment for sexual minorities to be free from discriminatory practices and human rights violations.”

This qualitative study was to compliment quantitative data that revealed HIV prevalence amongst MSM to be 7.5% during the National Mode of Transmission study that was conducted in July 2010. “In 2010, we were faced with the indisputable reality of the existence of MSM in the Sierra Leonean society, during the mode of transmission study. Not only did this reality stare us in the face, it revealed and confirmed MSM as part of the Most-At-Risk-Population (MARPS) of which an urgent attention was required. The study on the status of HIV amongst MSM revealed 7.5 percent HIV prevalence amongst them. This is more than five times the national HIV prevalence, which means that MSM communities are important drivers of HIV epidemic in the country,” said Dr Brima Kargbo, Director of the National HIV/Aids Secretariat.

He said given the nature of the Sierra Leonean society and its level of intolerance of sexual minorities especially MSM, “MSM are mostly found to have concurrent sexual relationships with the opposite sex. This enables a cycle of HIV transmission in the most likely occurrence of multiple sexual partnering. This is a great threat to public health in general and has become a priority concern of NAS and NACP. High HIV prevalence amongst MSM cannot be blamed on their sexual practices per se.”

The director of the NACP, Dr. Momodu Sesay said “The situational Assessment of MSM is very critical for comprehensive HIV/Aids programme planning and implementation in Sierra Leone.” The study sought to derive accurate information on the situation of MSM vis-a-vis sexual health programming. The stakeholders involved in the study included; human rights organizations, law enforcement agencies, international and domestic NGOs as well as UN agencies. The stakeholders were featured in this study because of their very important involvement in the national HIV response as well as potential partnership in addressing the sexual health needs of MSM in Sierra Leone.



13 November 2011 – LGBT Asylum News

9
Radio Interview Leading to Homophobic and Trans-phobic reaction in Sierra Leone

WhyCantWeGetMarried.Com West Africa Regional Director, George Reginald Freeman was invited for a radio discussion program on Tuesday November 8th 2011, at Radio Democracy FM 98.1, Freetown, Sierra Leone at 7:30 a.m. on the program titled “Good Morning Sierra Leone” and was repeated on the same radio frequency at 9:00 p.m. on the program titled We Tin Dae The interview was conducted by Ahmed Sesay.

During the interview, George Reginald Freeman threw light on the acceptance of the Nigeria same gender bill saying that, WhyCantWeGetMarried.Com as an organization has been a vital partner to the campaign in Nigeria as we took active part in the signing of the petition on the internet. As the conversation continued, George talked about mission, vision and objectives of WhyCantWeGetMarried.Com in Sierra Leone, which involves advocating for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) rights and access to healthcare facilities in relation to HIV and AIDS services.

In the program was also invited Mr. Henry Sheku, Communication Officer of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL), who said that, “the Commission is not working on LGBTI human rights, because the law of Sierra Leone does not give the Commission mandate to advocate and support LGBTI human rights”. As the interview continued, the journalist asked what role Sierra Leone must play towards the Nigerian Same Gender Bill; George responded that Sierra Leone must be 100% supportive, because the LGBTI human rights are fundamental rights. Towards the end of the radio program, most of the people sent several discriminatory text messages; and very few supportive.

For example:
• “Homosexuality is a taboo in the African society, anyone practicing or advocating for LGBTI rights must be publicly stoned to death”
• “You should not have granted this gay man an interview, what a shame! This
organization must be banned and not allowed to operate in Sierra Leonean society”.
• The positive text message was “people are allow to practice their sexuality as it is
nobody’s business”.

After the radio program, Ephraim Bernard Wilson, Denzil Kargbo and George Reginald Freeman (WhyCantWeGetMarried.Com staff members) were kicked out of their family houses with harassment and homophobic statements by their family members. Bernard’s family said that homosexuality is not accepted in Christianity; Denzil’s friends said that because of moral values he needed to leave the house; and George’s family said that homosexuality is satanic and a taboo to African culture so he needed to leave.

View full article here (pdf

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