Gay Africa News & Reports (All Africa) 2007
Gay Africa News & Reports 1999-2006
Gay Africa News & Reports 2008
Useful websites for LGBT Africa:
(1) Behind the Mask
(2) More All Africa News
Africa is Dying from AIDS (1998 BBC)
New book 2007: Gay Travels in the Muslim World, Edited by Michael Luongo (ch. 10 by GlobalGayz owner Richard Ammon)
See books review: Gay City News
1 One step forward, two steps back for Africa’s gay people 2/07
1a Homophobia in Africa "accelerates AIDS spread" 3/07
2 The dangerous attacks on the consensus about H.I.V. and AIDS 3/07
3 African gay issues finally taken to the world 5/07
4 A Quiet Revolution in Algeria: Gains by Women 5/07
5 LGBT Activists Unite in Africa 5/07
5a African gay issues finally taken to the world 5/07
6 First Pan African LGBTI Conference 6/07
7 Focus on male-male sex in global AIDS fight 7/07
8 Islamic Approach to HIV/Aids On Spotlight 7/07
9 ‘Asia must overcome HIV stigma’ 7/07
10 Circumcision Message Could Confuse Gay Community 8/07
11 The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) 9/07
12 Circumcision "ineffective" as HIV prevention in gay men 8/07
13 Tracing the Origins of Gay Demands 8/07
14 Unholy Communion–The African war over homosexuality 9/07
15 Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law
16 UN Commissioner backs LGBT right 11/07
17 In Africa, Accusation of Witchcraft Leads to Abuse 11/07
18 Tutu hits out at Church of England over treatment of gays 11/07
19 AIDS Remains Leading Cause of Death in Africa, According to UN 11/07
21 Tanzania Implements HIV Prevention Measures as World Marks AIDS Day 11/07
22 African nations urged to embrace LGBT rights 12/07
23 African and European LGBT organizations call on all States 12/07
26 February 2007
One step forward, two steps back for Africa’s gay people
by Stephanie Nieuwoudt
Nairobi, Kenya – The issue of lesbian and gay Africans’ human rights again came to the fore recently as Anglican Church leaders met in Tanzania amid the continuing row over the consecration of a gay United States bishop in 2003. An ultimatum was sent from the conference in Dar es Salaam to US bishops to make a commitment that same-sex unions would not be blessed. African Anglicans have opposed the American Gene Robinson’s consecration as bishop on the basis of his sexual orientation. The meeting followed the World Social Forum held in Nairobi, Kenya, in January this year where hundreds of people flocked to the so-called Q-Tent in a country where homosexuality has been criminalised.
In the tent, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from all over the continent and the globe shared their experiences of discrimination. They also spoke about the progress being made towards realising human rights for LGBT minorities. The Anglican Church’s discussions in Tanzania this week took place in a country that criminalises homosexuality. Zanzibar has recently passed a law punishing people who engage in homosexual acts with prison sentences of up to 15 years. Lesbians found guilty of "improper conduct" can be sent to prison for seven years. Tanzania is one of several African countries where lesbians and gays are being denied their human rights. These measures seem to be in reaction to advances in lesbian and gay rights made in Southern Africa.
In Nigeria, the Parliament is considering a Bill to prohibit gay and lesbian people from marrying or even politically organising themselves. Rwanda and Zimbabwe are another two countries that have strengthened their anti-homosexual legislation. In Uganda and Kenya, a "homosexual act" can land someone in jail for 15 years. After police harassment of lesbian and gay activists in Uganda, a campaign was run to "out" lesbian and gay individuals by publicising their names. Numerous activists, including the leader of Sexual Minorities of Uganda, Juliet Victor Mukasa, have fled Uganda, fearing for their lives.
In Southern Africa, the lesbian and gay movement has made great strides. In South Africa, the rights of lesbians and gays to marry were recently entrenched in a new law. A pilot project to sensitise children in secondary school about homosexuality is being considered in South Africa’s Gauteng province. Administrators in KwaZulu-Natal have indicated that they, too, are looking at the possible introduction of this programme.
In neighbouring Namibia, an active gay and lesbian community has through persistent campaigns managed to start a conversation with the religious sector. The NGO The Rainbow Project, which fights for lesbian and gay human rights in Namibia, has organised meetings between religious leaders and the LGBT community. While many lesbian and gays become alienated from organised religion because of homophobic statements made by clergy, there are religious leaders who promote the rights of sexual minorities, said Ian Swartz, chairperson of The Rainbow Project. As example, he stressed that the Anglican Church is divided on the issue of Robinson. He said many lesbian and gay Africans remain religious, making it necessary to talk to religious leaders about the acceptance of sexual diversity.
"They want to go to church because they still identify with the religious values that they grew up with. For many the church is the place where they find answers to life’s questions," said Swartz.
Liz Frank, a former chairperson of the Coalition for African Lesbians (CAL) and editor of the magazine Sister Namibia, said the advances in South Africa and Namibia had a lot to do with the spirit of democratisation that swept through these countries from the late 1980s onwards.
"South Africa, where the rights of all people are protected in the Constitution, undoubtedly sparked change which is influencing the rest of Africa," Frank said. This is especially visible in the proliferation of civil society groups that are organising around lesbian and gay issues. One example is the Coalition for African Lesbians (CAL), led by South African Fikile Vilakazi. It represents 13 organisations in 11 African countries. The CAL does feminist research, analysis and documentation. It also lobbies for women’s rights at local and national level. According to Frank, "South Africa is more than an example to the rest of the continent. The many activists and organisations who have struggled so hard for sexual minority rights have been a resource to us. People have been assisting us in Namibia with strategic planning, organisational development, lobbying and advocacy.
"They have helped us to break the silence and respond to hate speech. Through this we have begun to build the African LGBT movement." While civil society is organising to claim human rights for LGBT people, politicians still enjoy playing the homophobic card when it suits them. "It usually happens when the government faces some kind of crisis that they want to cover up," Swartz said. "After homophobic statements have been made in public by church or political leaders, one can feel that a few steps backwards are being taken. We then usually see an increase in verbal and physical attacks against the LGBT population," he continued.
"Some political and church leaders are fond of denouncing gays and lesbians as ‘causing’ moral decay. But the fact is that some of these leaders are the very people who promote aggression and discrimination."
5 March 2007
Homophobia in Africa "accelerates AIDS spread"
by UN news agency PlusNews
People with same-sex preferences are still a largely ignored and underserved community in the design and execution of HIV-prevention programmes throughout much of Africa, gay rights activists have documented in a report. The discrimination against gays and lesbians by African health services contributed to the spread of AIDS. In its report, ‘Off the Map: How HIV/AIDS programming is Failing Same-Sex Practicing People in Africa’, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), reveals for the first time to what extent African governments and funding communities have been denying basic human rights to this community as a result of "one-sided" global AIDS policies.
"Take the US government’s anti-AIDS strategies in Africa for example," Musa Ngubane of ‘Behind the Mask’, a gay rights group in South Africa, told the UN media ‘PlusNews’. "It fails to address the impact of AIDS on homosexual people, especially those living under discriminatory rule in countries like Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Kenya."
Multiple testimonies in the report illustrate how homophobia limits the access of African gays to existing treatment programmes. K.S., 23, a gay man in Mombasa, Kenya, reported that he was chased out of a public health clinic when he asked to be examined for a sexually transmitted rectal infection. Although 66 percent of all new global HIV infections occurred in Africa, 35 percent of these were excluded because countries ignored and criminalised same-sex practicing behaviour, with the exception of South Africa, the report alleged. "Bereft of the privileges of employment, education, adequate shelter and medical care, many young gay and lesbian Africans are defenceless against HIV/AIDS," said author Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC Senior Programmes Specialist for Africa and author of the report.
The report not only documents shocking examples of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people being denied access to effective HIV prevention, based on their sexual orientation, but also underlined the impact of lack of housing on same-sex practicing people in Africa. "If someone is denied this [housing], they end up having unsafe sex because they will be having it in odd places," Mr Johnson commented at the launch of the report. Homosexuality continues to be penalised or discriminated against in the laws of many countries around the world, especially in Africa and the Arab world. One aim of organisations seeking to defend the rights of gays and lesbians is to reform these discriminatory laws, and to get legislation passed that expressly protects the freedom of sexual orientation and identity.
The IGLHRC urged the US government and other major international donors, international AIDS service organisations, private volunteer groups, and national and local African authorities to take specific actions to improve the access of LGBT in Africa to HIV prevention, treatment and care services. "The ravages of AIDS fall hardest on those most marginalised in our societies: women, the poor, LGBTs," the report stressed. "We must insist that access to HIV prevention, treatment and care do not follow discrimination’s path."
The New Yorker (www.newyorker.com)
March 12, 2007
The dangerous attacks on the consensus about H.I.V. and AIDS
by Michael Specter
Annals of science about the AIDS denial movement in South Africa. Zeblon Gwala is a 50-year-old South African who sells ubhejane, an untested herbal remedy he claims will cure AIDS. On a typical day, as many as 100 people come to his clinic. Ubhejane has been endorsed by South African President Thabo Mbeki’s health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, and by Herbert Vilakazi, the head of Mbeki’s Presidential Task Team on African Traditional Medicine. Vilakaze believes that the toxicity of antiretroviral drugs, or ARVs-the only successful treatment for millions infected with H.I.V.-causes more harm than good. Like Mbeki himself, he’s convinced that a cure for AIDS is more likely to be found in traditional African medicine rather than Western pharmaceuticals. AIDS denial plays a corrosive role in the health policies of many countries, but South Africa provides the most extreme and enduring example.
Five and a half million of the country’s 48 million people are infected by H.I.V. Today, only 200,000 receive AIDS drugs. In 2003, the South African government issued a comprehensive AIDS policy, but it wasn’t implemented. Mbeki has never disavowed his view that H.I.V. medicines are aimed at maiming Africans, and he’s never publicly acknowledged that H.I.V. causes AIDS. With government approval, clinics like Gwala’s are thriving. In 1987, molecular biologist Peter Duesberg published a paper challenging the consensus that H.I.V. causes AIDS. Describes the history of retrovirus research and how H.I.V. was linked to AIDS. Duesberg argues that recreational drugs, not a retrovirus, destroy the immune system. To prevent or even cure AIDS, he recommends eating properly and abstaining from drug use. Through the force of his will, he essentially invented the AIDS dissident movement. Lists the three basic versions of the H.I.V.-denial credo. The most pernicious one is that Sub-Saharan Africa simply has no AIDS epidemic; instead, the problem is blamed on the absence of proper nutrition or clean water. Duesberg’s influence gained new momentum when Mbeki discovered him. Mbeki usually focuses on politics, not science, when discussings AIDS. Describes the racist tone of Mbeki and Vilakazi’s arguments.
“The situation in America is one of intolerance,” Vilakazi says. “Only one approach to treating this deadly illness is permitted…Who benefits from ARVs? Hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars have been spent on research and you have to get a return on your investment…” Mentions Marta Darder, who works in Khayelitsha with Médecins Sans Frontières. Describes the activities of German entrepreneur Mathias Rath, who promotes vitamins to cure AIDS. Mentions Thami Mseleku, South Africa’s director general of health, and Quarraisha Abdool Karim, former head of South Africa’s AIDS program. Writer spoke with Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, South Africa’s deputy health minister, who disagrees with Tshabalala-Msimang’s position on H.I.V. and AIDS.
Michael Specter, "The Denialists," The New Yorker, March 12, 2007, p. 32
Behind the Mask
May 11, 2007
African gay issues finally taken to the world–ILGA Africa Conference May 2007
by Mashilo Mnisi (BTM Editor)
In a daunting brainstorming four-day conference of Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) of the African region lasted Tuesday this week, an eleven member-representative of interim board was eventually nominated. Out of five regions of Africa – which are the Northern, West, East, Central and the Southern Africa, two members from each region were elected, and there was a consensus that an additional member is needed to represent those identifying themselves as intersexual and transsexual. The eleventh-member representative in the interim board has not yet been nominated, and it’s GenderDynamix’s (a South African lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex [LGBTI] organisation representing transgender people) responsibility.
“The timeframe that we’re looking at is between now and May 2008. We’re giving ourselves a year to fill the space, especially, looking at the Africa transgender conference coming next year”, asserted Director of GenderDynamix, Liesl Theron. Theron is flexible coming to language. “We don’t limit in terms of language. When choosing the ‘I’ or the ‘T’, it doesn’t matter whether they’re Anglophone or Francophone”, she contended. This utterance veritably reflects that ILGA of the African region encompasses diversity in terms of language use, however, the languages being used are English, Portuguese and French.
The second day gained momentum as the conference split into seminars where emphasis was on research for lobbying and advocating for human rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) issues. “We have to find ways to be understood first before we ask for equality”, Joel Nana of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
(IGLHRC) added. A critical working relationship with religious institutions was highlighted in the discussions where common ground between churches and LGBTI organisations should be sought. Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay added that; “The book of Ecclesiastes verse 14:7 states that ‘when two people lie together they keep warmth. The verse doesn’t specify the sex of the two people, but emphasizes the warmth the people keep.”
In addition, Muhsin Hendricks of The Inner Circle – an organisation representing Muslim homosexuals says; “We need to analyse the situation in consideration to different time periods and effects on modernisation.” Education and health was also some of the milestone debates in the seminars. The focus was on educating and training LGBTI activists about the local laws and rights, the media and creating awareness to healthcare providers especially with regard to LGBTI issues. Again, one of the scathing discussions was around gender-based violence and hate crimes on the continent, and that invoked plans on how to symbiotically work with the media in general so there’s adequate coverage on these, and strategies to address these nuisances.
On the same day, the large proportion of the delegates took on an excursion by bus to Soweto by the Gays and Lesbian Archives of South Africa (GALA). As part of inspiration, they were taken to a home of Beverly Ditsie – one of the LGBTI human rights defenders where they heard Ditsie’s mother elucidating how she raised her lesbian daughter in a homophobic Soweto environment.
They also visited a lesbian Sangoma, Nkunzi Nkabinde in Soweto passing the Hector Petersen Museum up the way to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu’s houses. It was agreed upon that the interim board should consist of two representatives from the different regions with gender balance as the criterion. The ten interim board representatives are Charles Gueboguo of Cameroon and Naomi Ruzindana of Rwanda representing the Central Africa, Sammuel Ganafa of Uganda and Judith Ngunjiri Wangu of Kenya representing the East Africa, Linda Baumann of Namibia and Danilo da Silva of Mozambique representing the Southern Africa, Younes Yatine of Morrocco representing North Africa, Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay of Nigeria representing West Africa and George Kanuma of Burundi representing the Central Africa.
Most representatives concur with Mangera that the conference was a success, and that it was inevitable. “It’s creating understanding between organisations as IGLHRC and the African Commission. It brings us together”, conceded Ruzindana. Ganafa says; “Here we’re representing all regions and it [the work] will infiltrate into the grass roots level.” He added that the ILGA Africa Region is more representative than the other working organisations in the continent. The representatives’ main duty is to manage ILGA Africa Region’s activities and participate in the global ILGA strategies during the two-year tenure.
According to Director of The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project Faroog Mangera, the conference didn’t entirely obtain its intentions. “The main aim was achieved – that is to elect a board of African activists and engage in African issues. But the secondary objective of the conference – that is networking, was just mainly achieved”, Mangera complained saying that there’s a lot of work around networking that needs to be done, also glimpsing at capacity building – which was one of the discussions. Mangera will be satisfied as long as an African voice dilates, and he hoped for 53 countries ideally. “We need to participate in meetings at international level and do some organising as it is important. We shouldn’t shy away from our issues”, he explained.
The end of the conference was marked by the drafting of the ILGA Africa Region constitution. The fundamental objective of the constitution is “to promote universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the elimination of all forms of discrimination.” David Kato Kisule, secretary of a faith-based organisation – Integrity in Uganda, said; “It [ILGA Africa Region] will show that homosexual people do exist in African countries and not just something happening in countries with white people.”
Note: Behind The Mask will be accountable as secretariat for the ILGA Africa Region on the interim.
The ILGA Africa Region office will be located during the June meeting of representatives.
The New York Times
May 26, 2007
A Quiet Revolution in Algeria: Gains by Women
by Michael Slackman
Algiers, May 25 – In this tradition-bound nation scarred by a brutal Islamist-led civil war that killed more than 100,000, a quiet revolution is under way: women are emerging as an economic and political force unheard of in the rest of the Arab world. Women make up 70 percent of Algeria’s lawyers and 60 percent of its judges. Women dominate medicine. Increasingly, women contribute more to household income than men. Sixty percent of university students are women, university researchers say. In a region where women have a decidedly low public profile, Algerian women are visible everywhere. They are starting to drive buses and taxicabs. They pump gas and wait on tables. Although men still hold all of the formal levers of power and women still make up only 20 percent of the work force, that is more than twice their share a generation ago, and they seem to be taking over the machinery of state as well.
“If such a trend continues,” said Daho Djerbal, editor and publisher of Naqd, a magazine of social criticism and analysis, “we will see a new phenomenon where our public administration will also be controlled by women.” The change seems to have sneaked up on Algerians, who for years have focused more on the struggle between a governing party trying to stay in power and Islamists trying to take that power. Those who study the region say they are taken aback by the data but suggest that an explanation may lie in the educational system and the labor market. University studies are no longer viewed as a credible route toward a career or economic well-being, and so men may well opt out and try to find work or to simply leave the country, suggested Hugh Roberts, a historian and the North Africa project director of the International Crisis Group. But for women, he added, university studies get them out of the house and allow them to position themselves better in society. “The dividend may be social rather than in terms of career,” he said.
This generation of Algerian women has navigated a path between the secular state and the pull of extremist Islam, the two poles of the national crisis of recent years. The women are more religious than previous generations, and more modern, sociologists here said. Women cover their heads and drape their bodies with traditional Islamic coverings. They pray. They go to the mosque — and they work, often alongside men, once considered taboo. Sociologists and many working women say that by adopting religion and wearing the Islamic head covering called the hijab, women here have in effect freed themselves from moral judgments and restrictions imposed by men. Uncovered women are rarely seen on the street late at night, but covered women can be seen strolling the city after attending the evening prayer at a mosque.
“They never criticize me, especially when they see I am wearing the hijab,” said Denni Fatiha, 44, the first woman to drive a large city bus through the narrow, winding roads of Algiers. The impact has been far-reaching and profound. In some neighborhoods, for example, birthrates appear to have fallen and class sizes in elementary schools have dropped by nearly half. It appears that women are delaying marriage to complete their studies, though delayed marriage is also a function of high unemployment. In the past, women typically married at 17 or 18 but now marry on average at 29, sociologists said. And when they marry, it is often to men who are far less educated, creating an awkward social reality for many women.
Khalida Rahman is a lawyer. She is 33 and has been married to a night watchman for five months. Her husband was a friend of her brothers who showed up one day and proposed. She immediately said yes, she recalled. She describes her life now this way: “Whenever I leave him it is just as if I am a man. But when I get home I become a woman.” Fatima Oussedik, a sociologist, said, “We in the ’60s, we were progressive, but we did not achieve what is being achieved by this generation today.” Ms. Oussedik, who works for the Research Center for Applied Economics and Development in Algiers, does not wear the hijab and prefers to speak in French.
Researchers here say the change is not driven by demographics; women make up only a bit more than half of the population. They said it is driven by desire and opportunity. Algeria’s young men reject school and try to earn money as traders in the informal sector, selling goods on the street, or they focus their efforts on leaving the country or just hanging out. There is a whole class of young men referred to as hittistes — the word is a combination of French and Arabic for people who hold up walls. Increasingly, the people here have lost faith in their government, which draws its legitimacy from a revolution now more than five decades old, many political and social analysts said. In recent parliamentary elections, turnout was low and there were 970,000 protest votes — cast by people who intentionally destroyed their ballots — nearly as many as the 1.3 million votes cast in support of the governing party.
There are regular protests, and riots, all over the country, with people complaining about corruption, lack of services and economic disparities. There are violent attacks, too: bombings aimed at the police, officials and foreigners. A triple suicide bombing on April 11 against the prime minister’s office and the police left more than 30 people dead. In that context, women may have emerged as Algeria’s most potent force for social change, with their presence in the bureaucracy and on the street having a potentially moderating and modernizing influence on society, sociologists said.
“Women, and the women’s movement, could be leading us to modernity,” said Abdel Nasser Djabi, a professor of sociology at the University of Algiers. Not everyone is happy with those dynamics. Some political and social analysts say the recent resurgence in radical Islamist activity, including bombings, is driven partly by a desire to slow the social change the country is experiencing, especially regarding women’s role in society. Others complain that the growing participation of women in society is a direct violation of the faith.
“I am against this,” said Esmail Ben Ibrahim, an imam at a neighborhood mosque near the center of the city. “It is all wrong from a religious point of view. Society has embarked on the wrong path.” The quest for identity is a constant undercurrent in much of the Middle East. But it is arguably the most complicated question in Algeria, a nation whose borders were drawn by France and whose people speak Berber, Arabic and French. After a bitter experience with French occupation and a seven-year revolutionary war that brought independence in 1962 at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives, the leaders here chose to adopt Islam and Arab identity as the force to unify the country. Arabic replaced French as the language of education, and the French secular curriculum was replaced with a curriculum heavy on religion. At the same time, girls were encouraged to go to school.
Now, more than four decades later, Algeria’s youth — 70 percent of the population is under 30, researchers said — have grown up with Arabic and an orientation toward Middle Eastern issues. Arabic-language television networks like Al Jazeera have become the popular reference point, more so than French television, observers here said. In the 1990s radical Islamist ideas gained popular support, and terrorism was widely accepted as a means to win power. More than 100,000 people died in years of civil conflict. Today most people say the experience has forced them to reject the most radical ideas. So although Algerians are more religious now than they were during the bloody 1990s, they are more likely to embrace modernity — a partial explanation for the emergence of women as a societal force, some analysts said.
That is not the case in more rural mountainous areas, where women continue to live by the code of tradition. But for the time being, most people say that for now the community’s collective consciousness is simply too raw from the years of civil war for Islamist terrorists or radical Islamic ideas to gain popular support. There is a sense that the new room given to women may at least partly be a reflection of that general feeling. The population has largely rejected the most radical interpretation of Islam and has begun to return to the more North African, almost mystical, interpretation of the faith, sociologists and religious leaders said. Whatever the underlying reason, women in the streets of the city are brimming with enthusiasm.
“I don’t think any of this contradicts Islam,” said Wahiba Nabti, 36, as she walked through the center of the city one day recently. “On the contrary, Islam gives freedom to work. Anyway, it is between you and God.” Ms. Nabti wore a black scarf covering her head and a long black gown that hid the shape of her body. “I hope one day I can drive a crane, so I can really be financially independent,” she said. “You cannot always rely on a man.”
May 10, 2007
LGBT Activists Unite in Africa…First LGBT conference in Africa commences to address important issues in human rights
by Ann Daramola
The International Lesbian and Gay Association (IGLA) met in Johannesburg this past weekend for the first pan-African, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) conference. Over a dozen LGBT organizations from Canada and Africa came together to plan the conference, including a Swedish LGBT organization â€“ RiksfÃ¶rbundet fÃ¶r sexuellt likaberÃ¤ttigande (RFSL) â€“ that supported the conference by contributing a generous grant. According to Sokari Ekine, writer at BlackLooks.org, a website that addresses social and political rights affecting African women, 60 activists from all over Africa gathered to confront controversial issues facing Africans who identify as LGBT in their respective countries.
“In 2007, no less than 85 member states of the United Nations still criminalize consensual same sex acts among adults, thus institutionally promoting a culture of hatred,” Ekine wrote in an e-mail to City on a Hill Press. “Among those, 38 are African governments.” The main goal of the regional conference was to provide ways for individual organizations to fight controversial legislation in their countries. The African region is represented by two activists â€“ Dorothy Aken’ova from Nigeria and Juliet Victor Mukusa from Uganda. Both are working to bring the resources of the decades-old ILGA to the African continent where human rights issues are not widely covered. According to the website, the impact of the conference depends on grassroots organizing and a strong support network that spans the continent.
“The organisation of a regional conference of ILGA provides an opportunity for African activists to reflect on ways to consolidate their movement and further progress in self organising on a regional level,” a statement on the IGLA-Africa website. “ILGA is currently seeking funds to implement the workplan that will be decided at the conference.” Paul Lindito, an American gay man currently residing in Cape Town, South Africa, believes that LGBT groups in Africa are addressing important issues that will affect human rights.
“LGBT groups in Africa have been organizing for the past 50 years,” Lindito said. “Not very many people listen to the government, so whatever laws they pass are inconsequential. Fundamental changes need to made and that’s what African LGBT groups are doing.” The ILGA African regional conference created a space for the dispersed groups to come together, share resources and elect board representatives. Activists were encouraged to attend in numbers. Ekine is among many national and international activists who have been using the Internet as a way to increase awareness of social injustices and human rights issues that she doesn’t see in popular media.
“I don’t think I’ve seen any major media sources cover this huge achievement,” she said. UCSC alumna ShantÃ© Lewis, 22, studied abroad in Africa this past fall and saw the effects of anti-homosexual taboos. “Homophobia was very prevalent there,” she said. “I think that the IGLA conference is beautiful because it will bring awareness and hopefully understanding to an issue that can no longer be ignored.”
May 11, 2007
African gay issues finally taken to the world–four day conference of Lesbian and Gay Association in South Africa
By Mashilo Mnisi (BTM Editor)
In a daunting brainstorming four-day conference of Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) of the African region lasted Tuesday this week, an eleven member-representative of interim board was eventually nominated.
Out of five regions of Africa – which are the Northern, West, East, Central and the Southern Africa, two members from each region were elected, and there was a consensus that an additional member is needed to represent those identifying themselves as intersexual and transsexual.
The eleventh-member representative in the interim board has not yet been nominated, and it’s GenderDynamix’s (a South African lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex [LGBTI] organisation representing transgender people) responsibility.
“ The timeframe that we’re looking at is between now and May 2008. We’re giving ourselves a year to fill the space, especially, looking at the Africa transgender conference coming next year”, asserted Director of GenderDynamix, Liesl Theron.
Theron is flexible coming to language. “We don’t limit in terms of language. When choosing the ‘I’ or the ‘T’, it doesn’t matter whether they’re Anglophone or Francophone”, she contended. This utterance veritably reflects that ILGA of the African region encompasses diversity in terms of language use, however, the languages being used are English, Portuguese and French.
The second day gained momentum as the conference split into seminars where emphasis was on research for lobbying and advocating for human rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) issues. “We have to find ways to be understood first before we ask for equality”, Joel Nana of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) added.
A critical working relationship with religious institutions was highlighted in the discussions where common ground between churches and LGBTI organisations should be sought. Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay added that; “The book of Ecclesiastes verse 14:7 states that ‘when two people lie together they keep warmth. The verse doesn’t specify the sex of the two people, but emphasizes the warmth the people keep.”
In addition, Muhsin Hendricks of The Inner Circle – an organisation representing Muslim homosexuals says; “We need to analyse the situation in consideration to different time periods and effects on modernisation.”
Education and health was also some of the milestone debates in the seminars. The focus was on educating and training LGBTI activists about the local laws and rights, the media and creating awareness to healthcare providers especially with regard to LGBTI issues.
Again, one of the scathing discussions was around gender-based violence and hate crimes on the continent, and that invoked plans on how to symbiotically work with the media in general so there’s adequate coverage on these, and strategies to address these nuisances.
On the same day, the large proportion of the delegates took on an excursion by bus to Soweto by the Gays and Lesbian Archives of South Africa (GALA). As part of inspiration, they were taken to a home of Beverly Ditsie – one of the LGBTI human rights defenders where they heard Ditsie’s mother elucidating how she raised her lesbian daughter in a homophobic Soweto environment.
They also visited a lesbian Sangoma, Nkunzi Nkabinde in Soweto passing the Hector Petersen Museum up the way to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu’s houses.
It was agreed upon that the interim board should consist of two representatives from the different regions with gender balance as the criterion. The ten interim board representatives are Charles Gueboguo of Cameroon and Naomi Ruzindana of Rwanda representing the Central Africa, Sammuel Ganafa of Uganda and Judith Ngunjiri Wangu of Kenya representing the East Africa, Linda Baumann of Namibia and Danilo da Silva of Mozambique representing the Southern Africa, Younes Yatine of Morrocco representing North Africa, Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay of Nigeria representing West Africa and George Kanuma of Burundi representing the Central Africa.
Most representatives concur with Mangera that the conference was a success, and that it was inevitable. “It’s creating understanding between organisations as IGLHRC and the African Commission. It brings us together”, conceded Ruzindana.
Ganafa says; “Here we’re representing all regions and it [the work] will infiltrate into the grass roots level.” He added that the ILGA Africa Region is more representative than the other working organisations in the continent.
The representatives’ main duty is to manage ILGA Africa Region’s activities and participate in the global ILGA strategies during the two-year tenure.
According to Director of The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project Faroog Mangera, the conference didn’t entirely obtain its intentions. “The main aim was achieved – that is to elect a board of African activists and engage in African issues. But the secondary objective of the conference – that is networking, was just mainly achieved”, Mangera complained saying that there’s a lot of work around networking that needs to be done, also glimpsing at capacity building – which was one of the discussions.
Mangera will be satisfied as long as an African voice dilates, and he hoped for 53 countries ideally. “We need to participate in meetings at international level and do some organising as it is important. We shouldn’t shy away from our issues”, he explained.
The end of the conference was marked by the drafting of the ILGA Africa Region constitution. The fundamental objective of the constitution is “to promote universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the elimination of all forms of discrimination.”
David Kato Kisule, secretary of a faith-based organisation – Integrity in Uganda, said; “It [ILGA Africa Region] will show that homosexual people do exist in African countries and not just something happening in countries with white people.”
Note: Behind The Mask will be accountable as secretariat for the ILGA Africa Region on the interim. The ILGA Africa Region office will be located during the June meeting of representatives.
June 11, 2007
First Pan African LGBTI Conference…African LGBTI activists meet in Johannesburg and elect a regional body to further advance towards equal rights in Africa.
May 23, 2007 – Earlier this May, 2007 more than 60 Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) activists from 15 African countries gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa to discuss ways they could consolidate their movement and further progress in self organizing on a regional level. ILGA, a 29-year old world federation of 560 groups, co-organised its first-ever Pan African LGBTI conference, together with a series of African groups including Alternatives Cameroon, Behind the Mask, the Coalition of African Lesbians, Sexual Minorities of Uganda and The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project. The Swedish Lesbian and Gay Federation, RFSL facilitated funding from the Swedish Foreign Office.
The conference began on a tragic note with the death of LGBTI activist Roger William Nowokap. The Cameroonian activist was traveling to the conference to represent the organization Alternatives Cameroon, when his plane crashed. Participants to the conference decided to dedicate the event to his memory. A major focus of the conference was on enabling African LGBTI activists to self-organise on a Pan-African level. Organizing on a continental scale for African LGBTI activists has seen various unsuccessful attempts in the past. One major obstacle to LGBTI organizing in Africa is the prevalence of state-sponsored homophobia. As of April 2007, 38 African countries have laws criminalizing homosexuality.
“In Africa, homophobic laws were either imported by colonial empires or the result of legislations culturally shaped by a conservative interpretation of religious texts” said Rosanna Flamer Caldera and Philipp Braun, Co-secretaries generals of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, in the introduction of a report on State-sponsored Homophobia in Africa launched at the conference. “Although many of the countries listed in the report do not systematically implement those laws, their mere existence reinforces a culture where hatred and violence are somehow justified by the State and force a significant portion of the citizens to hide from the rest of the population out of fear.”
An activist, who asked to remain anonymous, from the Senegalese LGBTI group And Ligeey, a support group for gay men, said gay men faced discrimination in many spheres of society though he applauded the recent inclusion of this group in a government HIV/Aids prevention plan. "Our struggle is about being visible and claiming our rights," he said on the sidelines of the meeting. "Many gays in Senegal are arrested and given unfair trials because what is judged is not their crime but their sexuality."
African Lesbians are also particularly at risk as they suffer multiple discrimination not only because of their sexual orientation but also because of their gender. The Coalition of African Lesbians, a group composed of 11 lesbian and feminist organizations coming from 14 different African countries, played a key role in ensuring that lesbian issues were high on the agenda of the conference. During the plenary session a panel was organised and managed by several lesbian organizations on “Feminist Ideologies, its role and impact in advancing LGBT activism in Africa.” The aim of the session was to make some of those abstract concepts more understandable and accessible and have gay men more involved in gender issues.
Another challenge faced by African LGBTI activists wishing to organize on a regional level is language barriers. Efforts at this year’s conference to bridge the gap between English and French speaking activists in Africa were successful, with delegations from French-speaking countries, such as Morocco, Cameroon, Algeria, Burundi and Senegal, attending the conference and networking with their counterparts in other English-speaking African nations. Despite these challenges, activists at the conference made significant progress in establishing an African regional LGBTI federation. African activists at the conference created an 11-member, interim board to govern the newly formed Pan-African LGBTI federation. The activists set up five regions in Africa – North, South, East, West, and Central – and elected two representatives from each region. Special attention was paid to the issue of gender parity and it was decided that each region should be represented by one male and one female representative if possible. The final seat on the board was reserved for a Transgender activist.
The following members were elected to the board (Because of homophobia and violence perpetuated against LGBTI people in their home countries, several board members asked that their identities remain confidential).
Representing the Northern Region:
• Anonymous – Morocco
• Anonymous – Abu Nawas – Algeria
Representing the Central Region:
• Anonymous – Horizons – Rwanda
• Anonymous – Alternatives Cameroon – Cameroon
Representing the Eastern Region:
• Anonymous – Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya – Kenya
• Anonymous – Spectrum Uganda Initiative – Uganda
Representing the Western Region:
• Rev. Rowland Jide Macaulay – House of Rainbow – Nigeria
• Anonymous – And Ligeey – Senegal
Representing the Southern Region:
• Linda Baumann – The Rainbow Project – Namibia
• Danilo da Silva – Lambda Mozambique – Mozambique
The conference thanked Dorothy Aken’ova and Juliet Victor Mukasa for their work as board members representing Africa on ILGA’s World Board and asked the newly elected interim board to choose two representatives amongst its members. Linda Baumann and Danilo da Silva were chosen for this position. There was no transgender activist available to take the final seat on the board, so Liesl Theron, Director of the first African Transgender organization, Gender Dynamix, has agreed to serve in that role while she actively searches for a transgender activist to replace her.
The interim board was charged with an important mandate towards which it will work until the next African regional conference. Specific goals of the interim board include:
• Creating a legal entity for the African regional federation, to be based in South Africa;
• Fundraising for both the organization and the next regional conference;
• Drafting a constitution to be submitted at the next conference; and
• Facilitating access to information for LGBTI groups throughout Africa.
In agreement with Behind the Mask, the conference chose to have the South African organisation act as secretariat. The organisation, well known for its website www.mask.org.za, will hold a seat on the board as ex officio.
Activists at the conference were unable to agree on a name for the newly-created organization but the interim board will continue to consider possible names and will propose possibilities at the next conference. For now, the organization will be known as the Pan African ILGA, but activists are hoping to agree upon a more Afro-centric name which uses African words to describe the LGBTI movement in positive terms. Despite the tragic death of Robert Nowokap and the various challenges facing the African LGBTI movement, the conference was an undeniable success. According to David Kato Kisule, secretary of Integrity, a faith-based organization located in Uganda, “It [the African Region of ILGA] will show that homosexual people do exist in African countries and not just something happening in countries with white people.”
“Communities have grown and become stronger in their respective countries” said Linda Baumann from The Rainbow Project, Namibia and co-chair of the board of the new federation. “The formation of the Pan African ILGA is living proof of the strength and unity of gay and lesbian organizations on our continent”. It will work to help all current and future LGBTI organizations and will also be instrumental in lobbying government bodies.
30th July 2007
Focus on male-male sex in global AIDS fight
by GayLinkContent.com Writer
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, has announced the launch of a new global initiative to fight the spread of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the developing world. Stigma, discrimination, and lack of access to health services have sparked alarming epidemics that threaten to devastate MSM communities in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, mirroring the HIV pandemics that ravaged gay communities in North America and Western Europe in the 1980s. According to a report from the International Lesbian and Gay Association, male-male sex is illegal in 85 countries, making MSM increasingly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS, estimates that fewer than one in 20 MSM around the world has access to HIV prevention, treatment, and care.
The MSM Initiative, which was launched at the International AIDS Society conference in Sydney, will support grassroots MSM organisations, fund critical research, and advocate for increased global attention and funding for HIV/AIDS programs specific to MSM. "Empowering MSM and other marginalised groups to protect themselves from HIV is one of the world’s most urgent health priorities," said Dr. Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS. New data indicates that the HIV pandemic among MSM is widespread and worsening. In Africa, nearly 40 percent of MSM in Kenya and nearly 22 percent of MSM in Senegal are estimated to be HIV positive, compared to 6 percent and 0.9 percent HIV prevalence in the overall adult population. HIV prevalence among MSM is estimated to be 27 percent in Ukraine, 21 percent in Uruguay, and 15 percent in Mexico.
MSM groups also rarely benefit from international HIV prevention efforts because bilateral funding and grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria flow primarily through national governments that largely ignore the needs of MSM. "The frightening truth is that, in many parts of the world, we simply do not know how bad the epidemics among MSM groups may be," said Dr. Chris Beyrer, director of the Johns Hopkins Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Programme in the United States. Transmission among MSM is still not tracked in most countries, resulting in a significant research gap. More research is urgently needed to inform more effective HIV prevention efforts." The term MSM includes those who identify as "gay," but also encompasses any men who have sexual encounters with other men, including groups whose gender and sexual identities defy Western categorisation.
For instance, in India there are at least three designations of MSM. Kothis are effeminate MSM who are often married to women and have families. Panthis are masculine men who have sex with kothis, and hijras, who are often castrated, are considered to be a third gender altogether. "The HIV epidemic in men who have sex with men in India is really bad. It has occurred for a simple reason. We have been totally neglected and invisible," said Ashok Row Kavi, the founder of the Humsafar Trust, a grassroots MSM group in India. The programmes that are working for MSM are those where community-based groups have been empowered to take control."
Despite various challenges, some progress is being made. Grassroots movements are forming in Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and other regions where discrimination is commonplace and the epidemic has reached crisis proportions. The MSM Initiative will provide seed grants to grassroots organisations doing innovative work with MSM groups in the developing world.
"A quarter century into the epidemic, MSM in many countries still do not have even the basic tools to protect themselves against HIV," said amfAR Acting CEO Kevin Frost. "We must have the courage to stand side by side with the grassroots organisations on the front lines of this epidemic delivering services and demanding greater action from governments. With funding and support, these organisations can transform attitudes, change policy, and mobilise funding to reverse the alarming spread of HIV among MSM." In addition to directly supporting grassroots organizations, the MSM Initiative will advocate for more research on MSM issues and fund global advocacy efforts aimed at mobilising funding from international donors, national governments, and others.
The advocacy programme will also focus on launching campaigns to end the stigma, discrimination, and violence that threaten the lives of MSM and fuel the spread of HIV/AIDS. The MSM Initiative has already enlisted partners from a number of leading organisations, including UNAIDS and the Global Forum on MSM and HIV. It has also received significant financial support from groups including the M.A.C AIDS Fund, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline’s Positive Action programme, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
"A coordinated global initiative is urgently needed to reverse the alarming rise in new infections among MSM," said George Ayala, director of education at the AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA). Working together, we can more effectively fight the denial and discrimination that have made MSM so vulnerable to HIV. We look forward to working closely with amfAR and the MSM Initiative to demand that the world finally takes this issue seriously."
Islamic Approach to HIV/Aids On Spotlight At Int’l Conference Here Next Week
Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa)
20 July 2007
by Biruk Girma
Addis Ababa – World’s Muslim leaders are set to convene on the concept of Islamic approach to HIV/AIDS and its implementation among the Muslim society, at an international conference scheduled to be held here from 23 – 27 July, the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council (EIASC) announced yesterday. Speaking to reporters on the upcoming conference, Council officials said the five day conference expected to be attended by over 30 countries aims to build and share experience among the Muslim leaders on the issue of HIV/AIDS. The leaders are also expected to reach a consensus on the strategies and modalities for implementation of the Islamic approach to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support, according to the officials.
Articulating and analyzing the concept focusing on how it could be transformed from theory into practice by sharing experiences on the implementation of various aspects of the issue using the concept would also be brought to light at the meeting, officials explained. Participants of the 3rd consultation conference will include Muslim religious leaders, Muslims living with HIV/AIDS who are involved in advocacy, government officials and leaders of other organizations interested in promoting the religion’s approach to HIV/AIDS. Around 134 participants from 30 countries are expected to take part in the week-long conference. The international conference is being organized by EIASC in collaboration with the Islamic Medical Association of Uganda, the US Embassy in Addis Ababa and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Addis Ababa conference is to be held under the theme The Islamic Approach to HIV/AIDS: Enhancing the Community Response, officials said. The 1st International Muslim Leaders’ Consultation was held in the Uganda in 2001 under a theme "Strategies for strengthening and expanding the international Muslim community response to AIDS" with slogans like "Jihad on AIDS: Self discipline using Allah’s guidance." The 2nd meeting was held in Malaysia in 2003 under a theme "The caring Ummah, transforming the response." In the year 2000, a group of Muslim practitioners interested in using the Islamic approach to combat HIV/AIDS met in Durban, South Africa during the International AIDS conference. It was there noted that the experiences and culture of Muslim communities in the fight against AIDS were not being adequately catered for by the then conferences.
"Thus, they agreed that these consultation conferences should be held to share the experiences of Muslim communities and chart the way forward regarding the Islamic approach to combating AIDS" council officials said.
July 20, 2007
‘Asia must overcome HIV stigma’
Sydney – Asia has made progress in containing HIV but must remove the stigma associated with the virus to fully consolidate the gains and keep it under control, international research chiefs say. Speaking ahead of an international conference of 5,000 HIV/Aids researchers in Sydney next week, America’s top expert Anthony Fauci and his Australian counterpart David Cooper said HIV remained a major public health risk in Asia. Fauci said predictions HIV would devastate Asia as it had Africa had proved false after local health authorities, which were initially slow to heed warnings, adopted pro-active policies. But he said the potential for an epidemic still existed in a region estimated to have eight million people with HIV, a figure aid agency USAid says could climb to 40 million by 2010.
"The population density in Asia is so great, with countries like India and China that have a billion people each, that infection rates just have to track up a few percentage points and you’re potentially looking at a catastrophe," Fauci told AFP. Cooper, the co-chair of the International Aids Society (IAS) conference, said responding to HIV was complicated by the fact that many suffers existed on the fringe of Asian society and faced discrimination. "We’re not going to have the generalised epidemics in our region that we’ve got in sub-Saharan Africa, we’re going to have explosive smaller epidemics," he said.
"They tend to occur among drug users, also among gay men, sex workers or mobile workers such as truck drivers, fishermen who are more likely to pay for sex. In Asia, they’re stigmatised and discriminated populations. The trick is to get into these vulnerable populations and provide non-judgemental healthcare." Cooper cited China as an example of a country that had overcome its initial denial of an HIV problem but could go further if discrimination ended. "China is responding pretty well, their response has changed, they’re putting treatment in place and doing research," he said. "But people are still very much concerned about the human rights issues and how people with HIV are treated in Chinese society."
China estimated last year that it had 650,000 HIV cases, although United Nations (UN) officials estimate the actual number is now higher. A recent paper in British medical journal The Lancet praised China’s adoption of schemes such as needle exchanges and awareness campaigns among gay men, although the UN said there was still resistance to confronting the problem at a local level.
In India, where the estimated number of HIV cases was this month halved to 2.5 million, the government has set out to target the type of at-risk groups identified by Cooper. "They’re talking about upscaling programmes with marginalised groups," said Anjali Gopalan, head of the Naz Foundation, which works primarily with men. There was quite a bit of silence on them earlier." Indians with HIV are still often treated as social outcasts, with reports of doctors shunning Aids patients and HIV-positive children being barred from attending school with other pupils.
In Cambodia, one of the countries hit hardest by HIV/Aids, the authorities are concerned that discrimination is helping the virus spread. "It is difficult for us since stigma causes infected people not to speak out and this quietly spreads the infection," said Ly Peng Sun, deputy director of the National Centre for HIV/Aids and Dermatology. "Bias can prevent us from fighting the virus successfully."
Vietnam has introduced laws banning discrimination against people with HIV, although locals say it means some employers simply find a pretext to sack infected workers, rather than admitting it is because of their illness. "If this new law is effectively implemented, it will serve not only as a shield for the fundamental rights of people living with HIV…but also as a positive tool for fighting stigma and discrimination," UNAids Vietnam director Eammon Murphy said.
Thailand has adopted a different tack to breaking down the taboos regarding HIV with innovative education campaigns such as traffic police handing out condoms, an initiative dubbed "Cops and Rubbers." The country, which has experienced about half a million Aids deaths and has about the same number of HIV cases, has slashed infection rates since it appointed a cabinet-level anti-Aids co-ordinator to oversee prevention efforts. It is also pushing international drugmakers over access to generic versions of newer and more expensive HIV medications that are needed to treat patients who have become resistant to the old drugs.
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
Circumcision Message Could Confuse Gay Community
Dakar – Experts are warning Senegalese men who have sex with men not to get caught up in the hype about male circumcision after recent research indicated that the procedure could offer some protection against HIV, and are urging them to keep using other means of protection. In 2006, the results of three studies, one each in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda, showed that the risk of HIV infection was up to 60 percent lower among circumcised men. However, these studies were specific to heterosexual interaction. The HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Senegal is an estimated 21.5 percent, according to the French Institute for Applied Medicine and Epidemiology (IMEA), compared to a national average of 0.7 percent. AIDS campaigners worry that the preliminary data on male circumcision could lead to reckless sex and an even higher HIV prevalence. In a 2003 study on stigma, violence and HIV among MSM by Dr Cheikh Niang of the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, only 23 percent of MSM said they had used a condom during their last sexual encounter.
"Within Senegal’s cultural context … where homosexuality remains a taboo subject, we do not want to encourage people to hide behind the idea that circumcision completely prevents the transmission of HIV," Jean-Louis Rodriguez, former executive secretary of And Ligeey, a Senegalese association working to protect the rights of gay men, told IRIN/PlusNews. He said the hidden nature of homosexuality in Senegal meant gay men often married or had girlfriends in order to fit into society, but still engaged in clandestine homosexual activity, putting many people at risk. In the IMEA study, 94 percent of participants also had sexual relations with women. The results of observational research, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases in 1993, suggested that the risk of circumcised homosexuals contracting HIV during sex could be halved; another study in 2005 in the United States reached the same conclusion.
However, neither of these was as extensive as the three African studies that prompted the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) to recommend male circumcision as a tool in the fight against the AIDS pandemic. "We know nothing; [these] are observational studies; therefore, they prove nothing," Bertran Auvert, one of the authors of the South African study, said in an interview published on a gay rights website called ‘The Warning’. "We can merely suppose that there is a certain level of protection." The only thing the medical profession is sure of is that MSM run a considerable risk of HIV infection, especially since intercourse is often unprotected.
Vigilance in prevention must be maintained
"Prevention must always be targeted, so that the message can be better understood and conveyed in the correct manner. When I hear all the media hype about circumcision, I get scared that people will get confused," said Rodriguez. "We have not yet worked on a specific statement to raise awareness, even if it were merely to tell people that condoms are the only thing that can offer protection." Khoudia Sow, the HIV/AIDS focal point for the WHO in Senegal, commented that "It is certainly not a question of revising all our prevention techniques; circumcision could play a part in the range of existing measures, but in no instance would it substitute them."
The university’s Dr Niang agreed. "MSM have to deal with many situations where they are excluded. Their lives are unstable, they are rejected by society and the health services, they do not have much control over negotiating their sexual relations, and drug use can also be an issue," he said. "These factors increase the risk of HIV infection a great deal more than whether or not they are circumcised."
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]
Behind The Mask
August 3, 2007
The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL)
by Lesego Masike (BTM Reporter)
In its mission to educate policy makers about the existence of LBT women in Africa and to tackle the myth that homosexuality is unAfrican, The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) is planning to publish a book that will document lived experiences of lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women in the continent. As part of CAL’s research project, the book will “increase lesbians’ political voice in the continent, create a platform for expression and help eradicate homophobia.” This is according to CAL director, Fikile Vilakazi.
To date Vilakazi has visited over 11 countries that house member organisations in Africa to discuss the content for the book and it was agreed that it should be in a form of poetry, short stories and diaries. These visits were also aimed at starting community based work in different countries and to meet individual lesbian women, some of whom are not affiliated to any organisations. While excitement escalated about the initiative, concerns were raised during the Johannesburg meeting about copyrights of the book, following past incidents whereby those who contributed said that they were not clear as to who owns the copyright for their work.
Responding to this CAL has promised that what ever profit that might be made from the book will be distributed to the contributors. “We are committed to principles of non-exploitative research and every one will own copyright of their chapters”, said Vilakazi The book is scheduled to be published in 2008 in South Africa through Jacana books and will be distributed in areas where CAL has members and in relevant Departments that contribute to the construction of laws in countries.
15th August 2007
Circumcision "ineffective" as HIV prevention in gay men
by GayLinkContent.com Writer
With male circumcision showing effectiveness in reducing female-to-male HIV transmission among African heterosexual men, some are questioning whether the tool might also be effective in other populations affected by HIV, including gay men and other groups of men who have sex with men (MSM). Two contrasting studies examining this issue were presented at last month’s International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Sydney. The first, conducted amongst MSM in South America, found that circumcision would be acceptable as a method of HIV prevention. The second, however, found that circumcised and uncircumcised gay men in Sydney, Australia, had the same risk of becoming infected with HIV.
Dr. Juan Guanira of the Asociación Civil Impacta Salud y Educación, Peru, reported on a study looking at whether South American MSM would be willing to participate in a circumcision trial. Over five months in the first half of 2006, 2,048 participants who were unaware of their HIV status were recruited from three cities in Peru and one in Ecuador. Participants responded to a questionnaire and were tested for HIV and syphilis, with 11% testing HIV-positive and 8% diagnosed with early syphilis. The overall circumcision rate among participants was 3.7%, with slightly higher rates in larger cities (around 5%). Among men reporting only insertive anal sex, there was a trend for circumcised men to have a lower prevalence of HIV, but numbers were too low to draw any meaningful conclusion from this finding. Just over half (54.3%) of participants said they would be willing to participate in a circumcision trial.
Residents of the larger cities of Lima and Guayaquil, Ecuador, were even more willing to participate. Willingness was also higher amongst men who had received more education. When asked to outline their concerns, men stated they worried about undergoing surgery (62%), enduring side effects related to surgery (72%), and encountering partners who would insist on having sex without a condom (75%). The authors concluded that this high rate of willingness combined with low circumcision rates "provide an excellent opportunity to implement a circumcision trial in the Andean region where the HIV epidemic is concentrated in the MSM population." Whether circumcision would reduce HIV transmission in the population remains to be seen.
The second study found that circumcision would not be an effective HIV prevention tool for gay men, at least in Australia. The presentation, reported by David Templeton of the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of New South Wales, gave details of a study looking at circumcision status and HIV seroconversion in the Health in Men (HIM) cohort of homosexual men in Sydney. The HIM cohort follows 1,427 initially HIV-negative men recruited between 2001 – 2004. Data was collected on circumcision status, sexual risk behaviour, and the incidence of sexually transmitted infections. Annual HIV tests were also performed. At enrolment, two-thirds (66%) of cohort participants reported being circumcised.
In a substudy, 247 men had a physical examination to determine if men were able to accurately report their circumcision status. This study found that 100% of men were able to correctly determine if they were circumcised or not. In 2006, there were 49 seroconversions among cohort participants (29 in circumcised men, 13 in uncircumcised men), representing an incidence of 0.80 per 100 patient years. There was no difference in the incidence of HIV infection between circumcised and uncircumcised men. This remained true when the analysis controlled for age, anorectal sexually transmitted infections, and insertive or receptive unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) with someone who was HIV-positive. Among the men who reported not having receptive UAI, there were nine seroconversions, for an incidence of 0.35 per 100 patient years.
Once again, there was no difference in the risk of HIV infection between circumcised and uncircumcised men. The researchers conclude: "Although statistical power was limited, among men who were more likely to acquire through insertive UAI, there was no relationship [between circumcision and HIV seroconversion]. "As most HIV infections in homosexual men occur after receptive anal sex, circumcision is unlikely to be an effective HIV prevention intervention in Australian gay men."
The Monitor (Kampala)
31 August 2007
Tracing the Origins of Gay Demands Analysis
The seeds for the increasingly brazen demands by gay persons for recognition were born at a conference held in Jinja in September 2004, the Daily Monitor has established.
Two weeks ago gays held their first press conference to launch a media campaign advocating for their rights. They complained of police brutality, discrimination and difficulties in dealing with HIV. "Let us live in peace" they demanded through Sexual Minorities Uganda, a coalition of four Ugandan Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Intersex organisations.To successfully stop HIV, we must treat every person with the dignity and attention they deserve," they added. However details emerging from Jinja indicate that the issues they are raising were first discussed at the first ever Gay conference held at the Nile Resort Hotel between September 5 and September 10, 2004. The conference codenamed "East African Symposium on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights" was reportedly organised by a local NGO with the support of a number of donor agencies.
The conference attracted 30 Gay activists from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi, six countries that reportedly form what the gay activists have since termed as the East African Alliance. A preamble of a draft report compiled by an unregistered Ugandan consultancy firm, First Consult, which reportedly facilitated the conference at a cost of US$15,000, indicates that the Jinja conference was a follow up to the All Africa Symposium on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, which was held in Johannesburg in February, 2004. The draft report, a copy of which Daily Monitor has seen, shows that the main purpose of the conference was to help build a strong All African Regional Action Plan through organising regional and national alliances.
Objectives of the Jinja conference were to train gays on how to organise themselves, to raise the profile and stature and to help eliminate homophobia. The report indicates that there were fears about the suitability of Uganda as a venue for the conference, but that the location of Jinja was deemed to be safe and outside the Ugandan security’s interest. It also indicated that local organisers of the conference spent considerable resources on buying off local security operatives and journalists to ensure that the conference was neither disrupted nor reported about. According to the report, those who presented a paper at the Jinja conference was a representative from UNAIDS Geneva, Mr. Michel De Groulard, who briefed the conference on his organisation’s stand on Men who have Sex with Men and the then UNAIDS Country Representative, Mr. Del Prado who presented a paper on "Vulnerability of Sexual Minorities to HIV/AIDS".
Other presenters included Mr. Marcello Ferreyra from the International Gay and Lesbians Human Rights Commission. Dr. Paul Semugooma presented a paper on "HIV/AIDS Stigma and LGBT". Others included a presenter from South Africa’s based Gay internet publication
September 28, 07
Unholy Communion–The African war over homosexuality
by Philip Jenkins
In the past few years, conservative Episcopalians from a number of U.S. congregations have voted to bolt from their church and place themselves under various African leaders, including Nigeria’s Anglican primate Peter Jasper Akinola. The source of the conservatives’
discontent with the U.S. Episcopal Church was its liberal position on homosexuality. It had, after all, named an openly gay man bishop of New Hampshire. That was also the reason Akinola and other African clergy appealed to these largely white congregations. Akinola’s church views any gay manifestation as an "acquired aberration" and has compared the U.S. Episcopal Church to a "cancerous lump." He has also backed legislation that prescribes severe prison sentences for gay sex.
But, while Akinola is the best-known anti-gay voice in Africa, he is hardly alone. If, tomorrow, he walked in front of a Lagos bus, other clerics–including Uganda’s Henry Orombi and Rwanda’s Emmanuel Kolini–would soon assume his role. Even the heroic Archbishop David Gitari–a leading opponent of dictatorship in his native Kenya for 30 years–has felt compelled to denounce same-sex unions in Canada as "immoral and contrary to the Bible." The current prestige of African religious authorities like these in the United States makes for an interesting new chapter in the history of global Christianity, not to mention American culture. And the politics are even more complicated than that: By joining forces with their African Anglican peers, disgruntled U.S. congregations have un- wittingly become players in a culture war over gay issues that is unfolding across the Atlantic. That war is political and religious and historical–and has almost nothing to do with our own.
Many African societies have well-established traditions of same-sex interactions and gay subcultures. In different parts of the continent, we can find everything from warrior cultures in which mature men sexually initiate youths, to examples of gender crossing. A decade ago, the varieties of African homosexuality were documented in the book Boy-Wives and Female-Husbands, edited by Will Roscoe and Stephen O. Murray. Why, then, did opposition to gay rights become so critical for many African Christians? The answer has a lot to do with the rapid spread of Christianity on the continent in a relatively short time. In 1900, Africa had 10 million Christians, representing around 10 percent of the population. By 2000, that figure had grown to 360 million, or 46 percent. As a result, most African Christians today are first- or second- generation members of the faith, and many are adult converts. Sociologists generally agree that newer religious groups tend to have more literal approaches to scripture. In practice, of course, literalism still leaves plenty of room for debate and interpretation; but, when the Bible specifically condemns a particular sin–and same-sex interaction is repeatedly denounced in both the Old and New Testaments–that makes it difficult for literalists to find wiggle room.
In other ways, too, the rapid expansion of Christianity has conditioned African views on homosexuality. African churches exist in a ferociously competitive environment, one where traditional groups–like Anglicans and Catholics–must fight to maintain their market share against newer Pentecostal denominations, with their enticing promises of miracles and healings. The last thing the older churches need is a suggestion that their commitment to scriptural truth is anything less than absolute or that they are any less rigorous than their rivals in condemning sin. The other key rival–and another factor shaping moral attitudes–is Islam. Over the past century, African Christianity has grown much more rapidly than Islam, a fact that puzzles and infuriates Muslims who regard the continent as naturally theirs. In 1900, for instance, Christians accounted for just 1 percent of the people of what would become the state of Nigeria; Muslims made up 26 percent. By 1970, however, the religions had achieved parity, each having around 45 percent of the population. And some recent polls suggest that, today, the nation has a Christian plurality. Against this background of rivalry and potential violence, Christians cannot be seen to concede anything to Muslims in terms of their commitment to strict morality. Even the harsh anti-gay measures that Akinola backs in Nigeria are still milder than the provisions enforced under the sha- ria code that prevails in one-third of the country’s states, which includes the death penalty for homosexuality. Moreover, by condemning sexual liberalism, African churches are making clear to their own members and their Muslim neighbors that they are not puppets of the West. Moral conservatism thus serves to assert cultural independence–a link that requires sexual immorality to be portrayed as a Euro-American import.
The Muslim context helps explain the sensitivity of gay issues in one other key respect. In the region later known as Uganda, Christianity first arrived in the 1870s, when the area was already under Muslim influence and a hunting ground for Arab slave-raiders.
The king of Buganda had adopted Arab customs of pederasty, and he expected the young men of his court to submit to his demands. But a growing number of Christian courtiers and pages refused to participate, despite his threats, and an enraged king launched a persecution that resulted in hundreds of martyrdoms: On a single day, some 30 Bugandans were burned alive. Yet the area’s churches flourished, and, eventually, the British expelled the Arab slavers. That foundation story remains well-known in the region, and it intertwines Christianity with resistance to tyranny and Muslim imperialism–both symbolized by sexual deviance. Reinforcing such memories are more recent experiences with Muslim tyrants, such as Idi Amin, whose victims included the head of his country’s Anglican Church. For many Africans, then, sexual unorthodoxy has implications that are at once un-Christian, anti-national, and oppressive.
o be sure, Africa is a diverse continent, and some voices are more liberal on gay issues than others. Many of the most progressive can be found in South Africa, arguably one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world. Its constitution outlaws discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, and, in 2006, the country legalized same-sex marriage. Many churches certainly opposed this latter measure, but the depth of feeling is nothing like what we find in a country like Nigeria. Anglican leader Desmond Tutu has spoken out for gay rights, declaring, "To penalize somebody for their sexual orientation is the same as what used to happen to black South Africans for something about which we could do nothing." Generally, bishops who do criticize homosexual behavior rank it low on their hierarchy of sins. The country’s current Anglican primate, Njongonkulu Ndungane, calls homosexuality a "pastoral, secondary problem," and has rebuked Akinola for failing to address more pressing issues in his backyard.
One explanation for this phenomenon is that South Africa’s unique history has given its leaders more room to promote tolerance on gay rights. After all, given the African National Congress’s recent credentials in resisting white domination, the government can hardly be accused of passively succumbing to Western influence. But South Africa is not the only place where gay-rights movements have gained a foothold. An Anglican group called Changing Attitude claims supporters in both Nigeria and Uganda, and the director of its Nigerian chapter, Davis Mac-Iyalla, has earned some notoriety as a liberal foil to Akinola. Some years ago, when Namibia’s then- president declared homosexuality a "behavioral disorder which is alien to African culture," activists responded by creating a fairly overt gay-rights movement, the Rainbow Project. At present, such voices constitute a distinct minority. That will not be the case forever, of course. As Christianity in Africa develops, churches will likely acquire a greater range of theological attitudes, including more moderate ones. Indeed, history suggests that fundamentalists often have good reason to worry about their more liberal grandchildren.
For now, though, gays in Africa face very real barriers to acceptance. And we do them no favors by viewing Africa’s culture war over homosexuality as a mere extension of the battle we are witnessing here in the United States, rather than as a fight which raises questions unique to African history and politics.
Trying to explain this can be a risky enterprise, as I learned first hand when I gave an interview explaining why Akinola felt as he did, only to find myself denounced for sharing his views. But, if an ever-larger share of the world’s Christian population is going to be located in Africa–and it is–then we at least ought to understand the views of that population for what they are.
Philip Jenkins is the author of God’s Continent:
Christianity, Islam and Europe’s Religious Crisis.
Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The Yogyakarta Principles address a broad range of human rights standards and their application to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity
12th November 2007
UN Commissioner backs LGBT rights
by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has spoken of her support for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. Louise Arbour made her comments after an historic meeting at the UN last week. The event, held in parallel with the session of the third committee of the UN General Assembly, discussed the Yogyakarta Principles. Named after the Indonesian city where they were adopted, the principles were introduced by 29 international human rights experts at a UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva in March 2007. They refer to the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity and address issues such as rape and gender-based violence, extra-judicial executions, torture and medical abuses, repressions of free speech and discrimination in the public services.
Ms Arbour said in a statement: "Next year we will celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – an occasion that provides an ideal opportunity to recall the core human rights principles of equality, universality and non-discrimination. Human rights principles, by definition, apply to all of us, simply by virtue of having been born human. Just as it would be unthinkable to exclude some from their protection on the basis of race, religion, or social status, so too must we reject any attempt to do so on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Yogyakarta Principles are a timely reminder of these basic tenets. Excluding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons from equal protection violates international human rights law as well as the common standards of humanity that define us all "And, in my view, respect for cultural diversity is insufficient to justify the existence of laws that violate the fundamental right to life, security and privacy by criminalizing harmless private relations between consenting adults. As such, I wish to reiterate the firm commitment of my Office to promote and protect the human rights of all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity."
Last week’s event brought together non-governmental organisations, UN representatives and state delegates, and was an initiative co-sponsored by Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. The Yogyakarta Principles call for action from the UN human rights system, national human rights institutions, non-governmental organisations, and others. Last year 54 states called for the UN Human Rights Council to act against egregious violations of the rights of LGBT people.
The New York Times
November 15, 2007
In Africa, Accusation of Witchcraft Leads to Abuse
by Sharon LaFraniere
Uige, Angola – Domingos Pedro was only 12 years old when his father died. The passing was sudden; the cause was a mystery to doctors. But not to Domingos’s relatives. They gathered that afternoon in Domingos’s mud-clay house, he said, seized him and bound his legs with rope. They tossed the rope over the house’s rafters and hoisted him up until he was suspended headfirst over the hard dirt floor. Then they told him they would cut the rope if he did not confess to murdering his father. “They were yelling, ‘Witch! Witch!’” Domingos recalled, tears rolling down his face. “There were so many people all shouting at me at the same time.”
Terrified, Domingos told them what they wanted to hear, but his relatives were not appeased. Ferraz Bulio, the neighborhood’s traditional leader, said seven or eight captors were dragging Domingos down a dirt path to the river, apparently to drown him, when he intervened. “They were slapping him and punching him,” he said. “This is the way people react toward someone accused of witchcraft. There are lots of such cases.” Mr. Bulio is right. In parts of Angola, Congo and the Congo Republic, a surprising number of children are accused of being witches, and then are beaten, abused or abandoned. Child advocates estimate that thousands of children living in the streets of Kinshasa, Congo’s capital, have been accused of witchcraft and cast out by their families, often as a rationale for not having to feed or care for them.
The officials in one northern Angolan town identified 432 street children who had been abandoned or abused after being called witches. A report last year by the government’s National Institute for the Child and the United Nations Children’s Fund described the number of children said to be witches as “massive.” The notion of child witches is not new here. It is a common belief in Angola’s dominant Bantu culture that witches can communicate with the world of the dead and usurp or “eat” the life force of others, bringing their victims misfortune, illness and death. Adult witches are said to bewitch children by giving them food, then forcing them to reciprocate by sacrificing a family member. But officials attribute the surge in persecutions of children to war — 27 years in Angola, ending in 2002, and near constant strife in Congo. The conflicts orphaned many children, while leaving other families intact but too destitute to feed themselves.
“The witches situation started when fathers became unable to care for the children,” said Ana Silva, who is in charge of child protection for the children’s institute. “So they started seeking any justification to expel them from the family.” Since then, she said, the phenomenon has followed poor migrants from the northern Angolan provinces of Uige and Zaire to the slums of the capital, Luanda. Two recent cases horrified officials there. In June, Ms. Silva said, a Luanda mother blinded her 14-year-old daughter with bleach to try to rid her of evil visions. In August, a father injected battery acid into his 12-year-old son’s stomach because he feared the boy was a witch, she said. Angola’s government has campaigned since 2000 to dispel notions about child witches, Ms. Silva said, but progress comes slowly. “We cannot change the belief that witches exist,” she said. “Even the professional workers believe that witches exist.”
Instead, her institute is trying to teach authority figures — police officers, teachers, religious leaders — that violence against children is never justified. The Angolan city of Mbanza Congo, just 50 miles from the border with Congo, has blazed a trail. After a child accused of witchcraft was stabbed to death in 2000, provincial officials and Save the Children, the global charitable organization, rounded up 432 street children and reunited 380 of them with relatives, the witchcraft report stated. Eleven fundamentalist churches were shut down because of reports of child exploitation and abuse. Eight Congolese pastors were deported. Villages formed committees to monitor children’s rights. The authorities say the number of children who are abused or living on the streets dropped drastically.
Uige, about 100 miles to the south of Mbanza Congo, is another story. Surrounded by lush green hills, it is a cluster of mud-clay settlements around crumbling shops pockmarked by bullet holes. In this region, said Bishop Emilio Sumbelelo of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, persecution of children is rising. “It is very, very, very common in the villages,” he said. “We know that some children have been killed.” His church runs the town’s only sanctuary for children victimized as witches, a shelter barely bigger than a three-car garage. Thirty-two boys, including Domingos, occupy bunk beds stacked a foot apart, their few clothes stashed in boxes underneath. No shelter exists for girls.
Since July, all newcomers have been turned away. “Children come here to ask for protection, but we have no space,” the bishop said. “To date, we have not found any special way to fight against this phenomenon.” Many boys describe pasts of abuse, rejection and fear. Saldanha David Gomes, 18, who lived with his aunt until he was 12, said she turned on him after her 3-year-old daughter fell ill and died. After, he said, his aunt refused to feed him and bound his hands and feet each night, fearing that he would take another victim. A neighbor finally warned him to flee. “I am not a witch, and I was not a witch,” Saldanha said. “But I had to run away because they were threatening to kill me.”
Afonso García, 6, took the shelter’s last empty cot in July. “I came here on my own because my father doesn’t like me and I was not eating every day,” he said matter-of-factly. After Afonso’s mother died three years ago, he moved in with his father. His stepmother, Antoinette Eduardo, said she began to suspect that he was a witch after neighborhood children reported that he had eaten a razor. Besides that, she said, “he was getting thinner and thinner, even though he was eating well.” Under questioning, she said, Afonso admitted that a male relative had visited him in his dreams, demanding that he kill a family member. Afonso denies ever confessing to witchcraft. What unfolded next is typical of many cases here. Afonso’s relatives turned to a traditional healer for a cure.
The healer, João Ginga, 30, wears a fur-collared leather jacket and works out of what he calls a hospital — a cramped mud-walled room. “If someone has a bad spirit, I can tell,” he said one recent morning as clients waited on a bench. “We treat more than a thousand cases a year.” With such a busy trade, Mr. Ginga said, he could not remember Afonso’s case. Afonso’s aunt, Isabella Armando, said her family gave Mr. Ginga $270 in cash, candles, perfume and baby powder to treat Alfonso. Mr. Ginga performed some rituals, put a substance in Afonso’s eyes that made him sob in pain and pronounced him cured, she said. But Afonso’s father and stepmother, the only relatives who could afford to care for him, did not agree, and expelled him from their household. “I pitied him, and I still pity him because he was living in the streets,” the stepmother explained. “But we were afraid.”
Mr. Ginga is hardly the only healer here who claims to cure child witches. Sivi Munzemba said she exorcised possessed children by inserting a poultice of plants into their anuses, shaving their heads and sequestering them for two weeks in her house. Moises Samuel, director of the provincial office of the children’s institute, said he was concerned not only about traditional healers but also about a bevy of churches with soothsayers who claimed to exorcise evil spirits and drew crowds even on weekdays. Once a soothsayer or healer brands a child a witch, child welfare specialists say, even the police often back away. Officers kept Domingos, the boy who was suspended from a rafter, for one night at the station house, then sent him home, said Mr. Bulio, the settlement’s traditional leader. They never investigated Domingos’s uncle, who Mr. Bulio said led the attack. “Of course it was a crime,” Mr. Bulio said. “But because it is witchcraft, the police do not take any responsibility.”
Domingos, now 15, insisted that he said he was a witch only to save his life. But even his 32-year-old mother, Maria Pedro, disbelieves him. Ms. Pedro is obviously fond of Domingos, her oldest child. She beams over his academic progress and worries about further attacks by his relatives, should he leave the shelter. Still, she said, she suspects that he was bewitched into murder. “It must be true because he himself confessed,” she said, eyeing Domingos carefully across a table in her two-bedroom house. At that, Domingos stood up and walked swiftly from the house. Ten minutes later, he reappeared in the doorway, his face red and splotchy. “Mother, from this day on, I am no longer your son,” he declared fiercely. Ms. Pedro wordlessly watched him go. “I just don’t know why Domingos got so angry,” she said later.
18th November 2007
Tutu hits out at Church of England over treatment of gays
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has criticised the Anglican church for being "obsessed" with homosexuality, in a BBC radio interview to be broadcast on Tuesday. He said that if he believed that God was homophobic, he wouldn’t be a Christian. The Nobel Peace Prize winner, said he was ashamed of his church because of its treatment of gays. He said that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the Anglican communion, has not demonstrated the attributes of a "welcoming God" to homosexuals.
"Our world is facing problems — poverty, HIV and AIDS — a devastating pandemic, and conflict," Tutu said. "God must be weeping looking at some of the atrocities that we commit against one another. In the face of all of that, our Church, especially the Anglican Church, at this time is almost obsessed with questions of human sexuality." He said that the Church acted in an "extraordinarily homophobic" way during the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.
Asked if he still felt ashamed, he replied: "If we are going to not welcome or invite people because of sexual orientation, yes. "If God as they say is homophobic I wouldn’t worship that God. It is a perversion if you say to me that a person chooses to be homosexual. You must be crazy to choose a way of life that exposes you to a kind of hatred. It’s like saying you choose to be black in a race infected society." During his visiting Professorship at Kings College, London in 2004, he spoke out against homophobia.
Global AIDS Alliance
November 20, 2007
AIDS Remains Leading Cause of Death in Africa, According to UN: 6,800 New Infections Each Day, Says New Report
Today the United Nations issued an updated estimate of the extent of HIV infection around the globe, based mainly on improved methods of determining the scope of the disease. Click here to read the UNAIDS press release. New figures released today by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization have revised the estimated number of people living with HIV to 33.2 million. This is about 16% less than the number of people previously thought to be HIV-infected. Each day there are about 6,800 new infections and 5,700 deaths due to AIDS, according to the report, less than was previously estimated.
"It is good news that the extent of infection is somewhat less than we thought, especially in India and some parts of Africa," said Dr. Paul Zeitz, Executive Director of the Global AIDS Alliance. However, we must not be complacent about the AIDS crisis," he noted. "There is still a huge unmet need for basic HIV/AIDS services, including for orphaned children. Today’s report does not change the fact that only a tiny fraction of HIV-positive pregnant women are getting the treatment they need to avoid passing the virus to their newborns and to stay alive to raise them," he noted. Some of the reduction is also due to increased access to prevention and treatment programs in affected countries. "The report shows that prevention and treatment programs are succeeding and therefore deserve more, not less, financial support," Zeitz said.
In September 2007, the UN reported a $8 billion shortfall in resources needed to fight AIDS, including funding for basic prevention, treatment, and care for orphaned children. The UN also said that while $42 billion would be needed to keep the G8 leaders’ promise of universal access by 2010, only $15.4 billion was projected to be available by that year.
Today the UN said that its estimate of the resources needed by 2010 took into account the new data on the extent of the epidemic, but that the figures would need to be revised downward by about 5% to fully reflect the new information. This means that the estimate of resources needed by 2010 would drop from $42 billion to $40 billion.
"We are talking about a small reduction in the resource need for 2010," Zeitz said. "Today’s report is a welcome correction, but it does not mean previous calls for funding or for faster action were ‘alarmist.’ The epicenter of the global AIDS crisis is still in Africa, and the lives of the people there matter. We still need to see effective programs get the funding they need to stop the dying."
"These reductions in estimates cannot lower our commitment to overcoming this preventable and treatable disease," said Rev. Dr. Hielke Wolters, Director of Justice, Diakonia and Responsibility for Creation at the World Council of Churches, in a statement released today by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.
The Washington Post
November 25, 2007
The HIV Superhighway
by Helen Epstein
Earlier this month, the pharmaceutical company Merck announced that its prototype AIDS vaccine, which cost millions of dollars to develop, actually makes people more susceptible to HIV infection. The frustrating search for a vaccine makes it easy to despair over the global AIDS crisis, especially in Africa, where more than two-thirds of people with HIV now live. Ideally, science would provide a magic bullet that would knock out HIV. Failing that, most AIDS researchers would settle for another type of magic that would generate political will and spur people to have fewer sexual partners and to use condoms more consistently. We haven’t found any such magic, but we may have found the next best thing. It isn’t perfect, but it costs nothing and, unlike the Merck vaccine, it does no harm. This semi-bullet consists of information — about the sexual networks that seem to let the virus spread so rapidly in Africa, and about what people there need to do to protect themselves.
Health officials increasingly recognize how important this information is, because they are running out of ideas about how to fight the AIDS epidemic. Although the U.N. AIDS program recently announced a steep downward revision of the number of infected people, especially in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America, this means only that the epidemic is even more concentrated in east and especially southern Africa than previously thought. In Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland, about a quarter of adults are HIV-positive — a number 10 times higher than anywhere else in the world. HIV testing and treatment are more widely available in Africa than ever before, and while this has extended many lives, it has had little effect on the incidence of HIV. Last year, three important studies showed that male circumcision can reduce HIV transmission by about 60 percent, but the practice is still rare on much of the continent. Condom use remains dangerously inconsistent, and strict abstinence-until-marriage-and-fidelity- thereafter is rare everywhere. Even under the new U.N. figures, 1.7 million Africans became infected last year.
Which brings us to our desperately needed, not-quite-magic bullet. It consists of an idea that first occurred to a small number of researchers working independently in the early 1990s. One of them, a young doctor named Christopher Hudson, was practicing at a London clinic for sexually transmitted diseases when he noticed something peculiar: Some diseases, such as genital warts, seemed to be more common in his white patients, whereas others, including gonorrhea, were more common in his black patients, many of them recent immigrants from the Caribbean. When Hudson took sexual histories, he discovered that these groups of black and white patients, broadly speaking, behaved differently. Both groups had the same average number of lifetime sexual partners, but his white patients tended to engage in "serial monogamy" — one partnership at a time — whereas the black ones were more likely to have steady, long-term relationships with two or three people at a time. Hudson had a hunch that these different patterns of behavior might help explain the spread of the different diseases. People with warts are infectious for years, but those with gonorrhea are infectious only for about six months. So if a "serial monogamist" who switched partners every year or two contracted gonorrhea, the disease probably would have run its course before he could pass it on to a new partner. But if a man with two long-term concurrent girlfriends contracted gonorrhea, he would spread it to both of them immediately — and if either of those women had another long-term partner, she would spread it to him right away, too. In this way, gonorrhea could spread rapidly to large numbers of people.
If his "gonorrhea theory" was correct, Hudson realized, it would have profound implications for the spread of HIV — a far more serious problem caused by a virus that happens to behave like gonorrhea but can’t be cured with antibiotics. As a 2004 article in the Journal of Infectious Diseases noted, after contracting HIV, people are highly infectious for about a month, after which they are far less likely to transmit the virus to others. By the early 1990s, it was clear that HIV was highly concentrated in eastern and southern Africa. Unlike the rest of the world, where the virus was mainly confined to "high-risk groups" — mainly prostitutes, intravenous-drug users and gay men — everyone in this region was at risk, from cabinet ministers to women selling vegetables on the street. Studies by the World Health Organization and others showed that the patterns of sexual behavior in this region were broadly similar to those of many of the black patients who came to Hudson’s London clinic: On average, Africans had no more partners over a lifetime than people elsewhere, but they were more likely to have a small number of long-term partners at the same time.
In 1997, Martina Morris, now a sociology professor at the University of Washington, showed mathematically that sexual networks involving long-term overlapping partnerships could create a kind of "superhighway" for HIV, even if everyone in the network had few partners. By contrast, HIV spread very slowly through sexual networks involving one-partner-at-a-time serial monogamy. Today, long-term overlapping sexual partnerships are widely acknowledged — by the U.N. AIDS program, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a growing number of African governments — to be major drivers of the epidemic, not only in Africa but also in the West. Even the government of South Africa, with its famously muddled AIDS policies, has acknowledged this. "We should all avoid having multiple and concurrent partners," Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said on last year’s World AIDS Day. "Let us commit to being faithful by sticking to one relationship at a time." But this awareness is dawning awfully late. Until recently, the policy and program documents of just about every public health agency working on AIDS prevention in Africa were silent on the HIV superhighway created by overlapping partners. Instead, most AIDS campaigns emphasized the dangers of typical "promiscuity," mostly prostitution and casual sex. Such approaches make sense in most of the rest of the world, but in the hardest-hit parts of Africa, as numerous studies have shown, most HIV-positive people contract the virus not from casual relationships but from girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands and wives. Even people with only one or two trusted long-term partners are at risk if one of those partners has another long-term partner who is on the HIV superhighway.
Unfortunately, a great many people still do not know this. In September, a Ugandan colleague of mine explained this hypothesis — known inelegantly as the long-term concurrency theory — at a meeting attended by 15 African health ministers. None of them had heard of it. "We knew AIDS was there," an HIV-positive woman from Swaziland told me recently. "But we thought it was for truck drivers and prostitutes." What difference would it have made if people had been informed about the concurrency superhighway 10 years ago, when the evidence of its importance first came to light? Would sexual behavior have changed more rapidly? Changing sexual behavior is difficult. But the founders of the World Health Organization recognized long ago that accurate health information is empowering — and that access to it is a human right. Information about the perils of concurrent partners won’t solve the AIDS crisis on its own, but it could at least help people spot where risks are coming from. I have often wondered whether such knowledge may even help spur a more compassionate, forward-looking political response to Africa’s epidemic. For years, most African governments all but ignored the AIDS crisis. Their indifference recalled that of the Reagan administration, which turned its back on the crisis and scorned its mainly gay and drug-injecting victims. How could African leaders, faced with a far more widespread catastrophe, do the same?
Whenever I visit Africa, I have discussions about AIDS with all sorts of people. When I explain the difference between the "prostitute theory" and the "long-term overlapping partnerships theory" of how HIV spreads across the region, I am always amazed to see how people’s expressions change. Young people, especially those who aren’t yet sexually active, are eager to know more. Even poor, illiterate adolescents have told me that the explanation makes sense. They understand how overlapping partnerships can transmit HIV because they see such relationships all around them. But older people often go silent when I explain the theory. Some of them work for governments whose responses to AIDS have been desultory. Perhaps these bureaucrats went silent because they were thinking about their own behavior — and wondering whether they or the people they cared about may have been infected. Perhaps it was dawning on them that this wasn’t just a disease for faraway "promiscuous" people. Perhaps, for the first time, they were seeing the AIDS crisis for the tragedy that it is.
Helen Epstein is the author of "The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS." (firstname.lastname@example.org)
November 30, 2007
Tanzania Implements HIV Prevention Measures as World Marks AIDS Day
As part of a U.S.-backed fight against HIV infection in Tanzania, student groups perform plays and stage other events in a bid to develop new techniques that will help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. Susan Dentzer examines these programs on the eve of World AIDS Day.
JIM LEHRER: Finally tonight, tackling AIDS through prevention. On the eve of World AIDS Day, President Bush asked for more money today to help fight AIDS. A key part of that is prevention.
Our health correspondent, Susan Dentzer, has been looking at such efforts in Tanzania as part of her series on AIDS in Africa. The Health Unit is a partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
SUSAN DENTZER, NewsHour Health Correspondent: Musan Ngalula dances and sings, urging people to get tested for HIV-AIDS. He’s trying to get the message to teens or young adults like him here in Tanzania. And Ngalula teams up regularly with fellow musicians in stylized native dress to drum home the message that HIV can kill. He knows that all too well.
MUSAN NGALULA, Tanzanian Singer (through translator):
I lost both my parents to HIV. My mother passed away in 1995, and my father died earlier, when I was in the second grade.
SUSAN DENTZER: This and other outreach groups here in Tanzania are sponsored by the U.S. Global AIDS Initiative, also known as the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief. As such, the groups are part of an urgent effort to prevent the 2.5 million new HIV infections now estimated to occur throughout the world each year.
MARK DYBUL, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator: We can’t treat our way out of this epidemic.
SUSAN DENTZER: Ambassador Mark Dybul is the U.S.
Global AIDS coordinator overseeing the program. He says, with roughly 33 million around the world infected with HIV and as many as 8 million of those already in need of anti-retroviral treatment, the world may prove unwilling to foot the bill to put all who need them on the drugs.
That’s a key reason why preventing even more cases is so critical and why the program has as its target preventing 7 million new cases by 2008. If it accomplishes that, it will have met a key test of its overall success, experts say.
It was a very good thing that President Kikwete did, because I wouldn’t have come to get tested if it weren’t for him.
"Relying on behavior change"
MARK DYBUL: Until we have a vaccine or a microbicide or pre-exposure prophylactics or some other technological interventions, we’re relying on behavior change. And as we know from smoking campaigns, and getting people to reduce fat content, and these types of health behavior change, it takes a long time.
SUSAN DENTZER: Here in Tanzania, the effort to change behavior starts with the estimated 7 percent of adults believed to be infected. Making certain they know they’re infected is critical, so they can change their behavior to avoid infecting others.
Tracy Carson coordinates the U.S. Global AIDS Program here.
TRACY CARSON, U.S. Global AIDS Program: It’s preventing the 93 percent of the population who are uninfected now from becoming infected.
SUSAN DENTZER: And that’s why last summer Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete kicked off a national campaign to get far more Tanzanians tested for HIV. He got himself tested first.
Dr. Bennett Fimbo of the Tanzania National AIDS Control program told us the government expects up to 5 million Tanzanians to be tested in the second half of this year.
DR. BENNETT FIMBO, Tanzania National AIDS Control
Program: It empowers individuals. Once they know that they are not infected or they are infected, they access those services, in terms of care. They will also access preventive aspects. They will also access information, how to live with the epidemic, how to live with the virus in the body, and how to avoid transmission to other people who are not infected.
SUSAN DENTZER: Rehema Rajabu came for an HIV test at a mobile testing site in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania’s capital. It’s sponsored by the African Medical Research Foundation and supported by the U.S.
REHEMA RAJABU, Tanzanian Citizen (through translator): It was a very good thing that President Kikwete did, because I wouldn’t have come to get tested if it weren’t for him.
SUSAN DENTZER: At the end of the session, a counselor gave Rajabu the good news: The rapid HIV test showed she was negative. To verify the results, she was advised to be retested in three months.
We supply more condoms than the rest of the world combined, so that’s 1.7 billion condoms since this program started.
Promoting "ABCs" in HIV Education
SUSAN DENTZER: For people who do test positive, there’s counseling to use condoms. They’re the "c" of the U.S. program’s so-called ABC approach: abstinence; be faithful; use condoms. And there’s no question that handing out millions of dollars worth of condoms has been a major part of the program’s prevention effort.
MARK DYBUL: We supply more condoms than the rest of the world combined, so that’s 1.7 billion condoms since this program started.
SUSAN DENTZER: As for the "a," abstinence, the U.S.
program was required by Congress to use a third of its prevention dollars on programs that advocate abstinence until marriage. But various studies and public health experts have questioned the effectiveness of abstinence programs in changing sexual behavior.
And a 2006 report by Congress’s Government Accountability Office said the abstinence requirement had interfered with the ability to deliver, quote, "comprehensive messages to certain populations." That could include people who already have AIDS for whom advice about abstinence isn’t likely to be helpful.
In Tanzania, we saw how these ABC messages are really conveyed and that the on-the-ground reality is more complicated than the simple ABC rubric would suggest.
In fact, especially when aimed at young people, the messages are more like this: Abstain if you can, but if you can’t, be faithful to one partner. If you can’t do that, at least reduce the number of sexual partners you have so you’re less likely to get or spread HIV.
A case in point was this gathering for Tanzanian high school students in Dar-es-Salaam. It was organized by a group called TAYOA, the Tanzania Youth Alliance, which is funded by the U.S. program. To the audience’s delight, students role-played how to deal with each other on matters pertaining to sex.
"Baby, I love you," says this boy. The girl’s response is noncommittal, but her manner conveys the clear message, "Get lost." Other students describe their solutions for avoiding HIV.
TANZANIAN STUDENT: I just want to be faithful. I have to confess. I really have a girlfriend, but it’s only one, and I’ve been with her for three years. I just like to stick with the two methods: being faithful and abstinence.
If you calculate, you can find that you are sleeping with maybe 3,000 or 2,000 people because of all these sexual networks.
Bringing messages to youth
SUSAN DENTZER: Peter Masika heads TAYOA, which is funded by the U.S. program.
PETER MASIKA, Tanzanian Anti-AIDS Activist: What we realize is that youth, they like very much to hear the message from their own fellow youth. If we don’t bring these good, positive messages, good ideas and also prevention messages, empower young people so they can tell their fellow young people, like telling them abstinence is cool, it’s good, there’s no way that we are going to be successful.
SUSAN DENTZER: Even if sexually active youth just reduce their number of partners, Masika told us, HIV transmission will fall.
PETER MASIKA: You have to know that you are having relationships with all the other people he has ever had. And likewise, the boy is having relationships with all the other people.
We always tell them, "Take this into your imagination, into a big football ground, and try to think that you put all the beds around and try to think how many people you are sleeping with at one time. If you calculate, you can find that you are sleeping with maybe 3,000 or 2,000 people because of all these sexual networks."
SUSAN DENTZER: The U.S. program’s support of HIV-fighting efforts like these are likely to get a close look soon in Washington.
The original five-year program was passed in 2003, but to continue beyond 2008 it will have to be extended by Congress. And experts say that, in the future, the program will have to focus more than ever on areas like prevention.
You get older, wealthy men picking up young women and infecting them with AIDS, because poverty is such an issue that the young women are seduced by these older, wealthier, more distinguished men.
Reaching youth through radio
SUSAN DENTZER: Global AIDS coordinator Dybul told us that means thinking of new ways to reach youngpeople around the world.
MARK DYBUL: There are organizations in the private sector that live and die on whether or not they change a young kid’s behavior, whether it’s going to a movie or drinking a certain soda or buying a certain toy. We need to take that type of messaging, that type of 21st-century approach.
SUSAN DENTZER: We got a glimpse of that future recently in this impromptu recording studio in Dar-es-Salaam. A group of Tanzanian actors was taping an anti-HIV radio spot.
The radio spot was the brainchild of a Stanford Business School professor, Chip Heath. He was brought over by the U.S. Global AIDS Program to help craft a new HIV prevention campaign.
CHIP HEATH, Stanford University: One of the important problems in Tanzania is intergenerational transmission of AIDS. You get older, wealthy men picking up young women and infecting them with AIDS, because poverty is such an issue that the young women are seduced by these older, wealthier, more distinguished men.
SUSAN DENTZER: So Heath told us he and his colleagues invented the character Fataki, or Swahili for explosion, to try to create an influential negative cultural stereotype.
CHIP HEATH: Fataki is this lecherous character that’s always trying to pick up women in some form. He’s wealthy. He’s smooth. But in every case, when he tries to pick up a young woman, there will be a friend in the positive messages that intervenes and says, "Don’t you know that guy? His wife died of AIDS." And then they start running away, and Fataki is going, "Hey, wait, baby, what’s wrong?"
The announcer comes on and says, "Don’t let your friends fall prey to Fataki." And what we’re hoping is that it’s going to become a catchphrase. "He’s such a Fataki. You know, he’s such a lecher."
SUSAN DENTZER: Back at the mobile testing center, we watched as a group danced and sang their own prevention messages.
"Get tested," sang this man. He has HIV. So does this woman. With the backing of the U.S. program, they’re hoping to help others avoid the same fate.
5th December 2007
African nations urged to embrace LGBT rights
African and European LGBT organisations have asked all African states to fight homophobia as an EU-Africa summit takes place in Lisbon next weekend. ILGA Europe and its African equivalent Pan Africa ILGA have denounced "state-sponsored" homophobia on the African continent and asked that all African countries adopt the Yogyakarta Principles. Launched in March 2007, the Yogyakarta Principles are a set of principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. In their joint appeal the LGBT organisations stressed that homophobic laws, which violate fundamental rights of GLBT people, are still in place in many African states. ILGA and its partner organisations have called on those states that consider same-sexual relationships a crime to abolish those laws.
At least 38 countries in Africa still criminalise consensual same-sex acts among adults. According to ILGA, although many of these countries do not systematically implement discriminating laws, "their mere existence reinforces a culture where a significant portion of the citizens need to hide from the rest of the population out of fear." The Yogyakarta Principles address a broad range of LGBT issues and have been adopted by judges, academics, a former UN high commissioner for Human Rights, members of treaty bodies, NGOs and others. They include many issues, such as colonial criminal laws in India, proposed discriminatory legislation in Nigeria, police abuses in the US, banning of a gay prides in Eastern Europe and Russia, exclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity issues from European school curricula. ILGA says it would be a major step forward for human rights protection if, on the occasion of their summit, European and African states adopted these principles "as their new guidelines to challenge homophobia and to assure the protection of fundamental rights to all their citizens."
From Philipp Braun & Rosanna Flamer-Caldera ILGA International Lesbian and Gay Association
December 7, 2007
African and European LGBT organizations call on all States to fight homophobia and to adopt the Yogyakarta Principles
Homophobic laws are still in place in many African states, violating the fundamental rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex
(LGBTI) people. On the occasion of the Europe-Africa meeting in Lisbon, Pan Africa ILGA, (African region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association), ILGA-Europe and ILGA together with a number of human rights organizations call on European and African governments to clearly state that LGBT rights are human rights and to adopt the Yogyakarta Principles, which are an authoritative compilation of those fundamental rights. Pan Africa ILGA, ILGA-Europe and ILGA are calling on those African states that still criminalize consensual same sex acts among adults to abolish those laws, which are in clear contravention of international human rights law.
Today, no less than 38 African states still criminalize consensual same sex acts among adults, thus institutionally promoting a culture of hatred. The strong stigma against MSM makes it even more difficult to discern the factors associated with the transmission of HIV between persons of the same sex. This stigma drastically limits the access of these persons to HIV services. The epidemic develops in the shadows amongst them. Prevention for this group is almost non-existent, while, at the same time, the rate of HIV infection is much higher – as much as five times higher – amongst MSM than amongst the general population. On May 2007, a report on State Homophobia in Africa was launched in Johannesburg, during the first African regional conference of ILGA. The collection of laws presented in this report is an attempt to show the extent of State homophobia in Africa. Provisions against sexual activity between consenting adults have been found to constitute a clear violation of international human rights law
(see information below on the state of international human rights law in this area).
Although many of the countries listed in the report do not systematically implement those laws, their mere existence reinforces a culture where a significant portion of the citizens need to hide from the rest of the population out of fear. Our organizations urge African States and their partners to clearly show their strong will not to accept this situation anymore and to broaden their defense of human rights to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex citizens in their respective countries. Launched in March 2007, the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity identify the binding human rights standards with which governments must comply to ensure the respect of LGBT people’s fundamental rights
The Yogyakarta Principles address a broad range of human rights issues relevant to sexual orientation and gender identity issues around the world – whether it’s a challenge to colonial criminal laws in India, proposed discriminatory legislation in Nigeria, the murder of a transgender activist in Argentina, responding to police abuses in the US, addressing violence against métis in Nepal, the banning of a Pride march in Russia, exclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity issues from European school curricula, so-called "corrective" rape and punitive violence directed against lesbians in countries around the world, with impunity for the perpetrators – the Principles make clear that these are human rights abuses in violation of international law and that the international community must respond. At the moment, the Principles have been adopted by judges, academics, a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Special Procedures, members of treaty bodies, NGOs and others. It would be a major step forward for human rights protection if, on the occasion of their summit, European and African states adopted these principles as their new guide-lines to challenge homophobia and to assure the protection of fundamental rights to all their citizens.
More information is available on:
http://africa.ilga.org and www.ilga-europe.org and www.ilga.org
Contacts: 0027 (0)79 533 3167/ 0027 (0)82 888 9481
ILGA, The International Lesbian and Gay Association, is a world-wide network of national and local groups dedicated to achieving equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people everywhere. Founded in 1978, it now has more than 600 member organisations. Every continent and over 90 countries are represented. ILGA is to this day the only global non-governmental community-based federation focused on fighting discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression as a global issue.
Pan Africa ILGA brings together LGBTI activists from 16 countries in Africa and recently elected a board with representatives from all five African regions (Northern, Western, Central, Eastern and Southern): Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Nigeria, Cameroon, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa.
ILGA-Europe is an NGO with ECOSOC consultative status that is also recognized by the EU, COE and OSCE
Background on International Human Rights Law and laws that criminalize consensual same sex acts:
In Toonen v Australia, the UN Human Rights Committee in March 1994 confirmed that laws criminalizing consensual same-sex activity violate both the right to privacy and the right to equality before the law without any discrimination, contrary to articles 17(1) and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.The Committee further considered that such laws interfere with privacy rights, whether or not they are actively enforced, and “run counter to the implementation of effective education programmes in respect of HIV/AIDS prevention” by driving marginalised communities underground. The UN Human Rights Committee has affirmed this position on many occasions, either urging States to repeal laws which criminalize consensual same-sex activity or commending them for bringing their legislation into conformity with the Covenant by repealing such provisions. This position is consistent with other regional and national jurisprudence, including decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
The Yogyakarta Principles (see information above) are clear in stating that so called “sodomy laws” as exist in 38 countries in Africa are a violation of international human rights law: Principle 2 of the Yogyakarta Principles affirms the right of all persons to equality before the law without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and specifically confirms the obligation of States to “repeal criminal and other legal provisions that prohibit or are, in effect, employed to prohibit consensual sexual activity among people of the same sex who are over the age of consent, and ensure that an equal age of consent applies to both same-sex and different-sex sexual activity.”
Principle 6 of the Yogyakarta Principles affirms the right of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, to the enjoyment of privacy without arbitrary or unlawful interference, and confirms States’ obligation to “repeal all laws that criminalise consensual sexual activity among persons of the same sex who are over the age of consent, and ensure that an equal age of consent applies to both same-sex and different-sex sexual activity.” The Principles also call on States to “ensure that criminal and other legal provisions of general application are not applied to de facto criminalise consensual sexual activity among persons of the same sex who are over the age of consent.”
On occasion of the Lisbon summit Pan Africa ILGA, ILGA-Europe and ILGA are calling on those African states that still criminalize consensual same sex acts among adults to abolish those laws, which are in contravention of international human rights law.
Philipp Braun & Rosanna Flamer-Caldera
ILGA International Lesbian and Gay Association
Danilo Da Silva & Linda Baumann
Pan Africa ILGA
Solidarité Internationale LGBT
Associação ILGA Portugal – Portugal
Centre LGBT Paris IDF (CGL Paris) – France Changing Attitude Nigeria – Nigeria GALZ – Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe Homosexualités et Socialisme (HES) – France Interassociative lesbienne, gaie, bi et trans (Inter-LGBT) – France La commission LGBT des Verts – France L’Autre Cercle Ile de France – France
Luzau Basambombo – Correspondent Tels Quels in Africa – Belgium
Skeiv solidaritet/Queer solidarity – Norway The English-speaking Gay Group – Belgium The LesboHomogroep of the AOb (Education Trade Union) – The Netherlands "WARNING (Prévention VIH et santé communautaire) – France