July 21, 2011 – Alvesco
A condom in every jail cell
Sensitivity training for health care workers, improved counselling for HIV-infected men and the provision of condoms and lubricants in prisons and other places where men have sex with men are among solutions being advanced to combat rising HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in major cities of South Africa. The solutions are among measures urged by participants to the first South African conference, the “Top2Btm MSM [men who have sex with men] Symposium,” held to “brainstorm about prevention, care and treatment for MSMs” in the wake of new data which indicates that the HIV prevalence rates among men in Africa’s southernmost nation are soaring.
Global Forum on MSMs & HIV data indicated that the HIV prevalence rate in the Johannesburg urban area of Soweto, with a predominantly black population, was 50.4% in testing of 378 men who have sex with men, while the rate in the city of Durban was 44% (among 266 men). The South African government pegged the rate in Cape Town, another city popular with tourists, at 25% but did not indicate the sample size. Nationally, 7.9% of South African men, and 13.6% of women are infected with HIV. The high percentages in major cities, however, compelled representatives of South African homosexual groups, health providers and researchers to gather in search of solutions.
Delegates to the May conference urged a host of remedial measures, led by a call upon various levels of government, as well as religious and community groups, to support measures aimed at destigmatizing homophobia and anal sex. Although South Africa is the only country in Africa that does not outlaw homosexuality, persecution is common. As a consequence, few homosexuals are tested for HIV and only 18% of men who have sex with men in South Africa know their HIV status, Dr. Greg Jonsson, a psychiatrist at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto, told the symposium.
Stigmatization is an issue, says Dr. James MacIntyre, symposium organizer and CEO of the Cape Town-based Anova Health Institute which hosts Health4Men, a program which provides health care for men who have sex with men. “Internalized homophobia and higher levels of HIV stigma are associated with negative outcomes, especially romantic loneliness, poor self-esteem and lack of social support,” MacIntyre says. The institute has organized outreach programmes to sensitize the broader community that individuals with alternative sexual preferences are not necessarily “wrong, criminal or a threat” to society, says Glen De Swardt, coordinator of the Health4Men program.
De Swardt says there is also a need for the national health system to provide sensitivity training for health workers who provide medical services for HIV-infected men. To that end, South Africa’s Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, has pledged to commission more research on sensitivity training for health care workers. Motsoaledi also called for more national research on the extent to which HIV has infected the MSM community. “We only have small regional studies to rely on at this point.” Others offer more prescriptive solutions.
The government should provide access to protective measures such as condoms and water-based lubricants in prisons and other places where forced and consensual anal sex is prevalent, says De Swardt. Providing lubricants is vital, says Dr. Chris Beyrer, director of the Johns Hopkins Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program in Baltimore, Maryland. He explains that due to lack of natural lubrication, anal sex is highly likely to cause bruising of both the penis and the rectum, so the likelihood of HIV infection is up to 18 times higher than during penile-vaginal sex.
Still others argue there’s a need to improve psychiatric support services for homosexuals who become HIV-infected, as they often are afraid to seek help and turn to drug use. “A young men’s survey showed us that 66% of young MSM reported illicit drug use,” says Jonsson. HIV-positive men who have sex with men are more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression, or to suffer from “HIV-associated neuro-cognitive disorder (which affects such brain functions as concentration, memory and thought), adds Dr. Kevin Stollof, a psychiatrist at Ivan Toms Men’s centre in Cape Town.
21 July 2011 – AllAfrica.com
South Africa: Lessons From HCT Campaign – Living With Aids # 481
by Khopotso Bodibe
About 15 million South Africans were targeted for HIV testing in the government’s HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign, but the effort got slightly over 10 million people to test. The campaign has challenged South Africans and the health system in significant ways. The campaign has been described as ambitious. Never has any country in the world targeted such a huge population – 15 million citizens to test for HIV – and had 10.2 million people accepting the HIV test. But the campaign was not without any flaws. There are reports that some of the tests were obtained in a manner that violated the human rights of people.
"We are hearing stories of people being tested without their consent. We are hearing stories of people being told: ‘If you don’t have an HIV test, we’re not going to give you the treatment that you need’. We are hearing stories of people saying: ‘Look, I already know that I’ve got HIV. Why do I need to test again’?", says Mark Heywood is the deputy chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), which is responsible for co-ordinating the HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign. Heywood says that in carrying the campaign forward there needs to be systems to identify human rights violations as they occur and there also needs to be better education of health workers and the public around issues relating to human rights.
"If we are having a big campaign amongst rural people, what do we do to make sure that those people who test positive have support, that they are not isolated and victimised within their community? If we’re targeting men who have sex with men we can’t just test men who have sex with men for HIV. We also have to be educating health care workers to make sure that clinics and hospitals are friendly – not discriminating against, not stigmatizing men who have sex with men. I don’t want to discover my HIV status and, then, find that if I go into a clinic that I’m going to be humiliated and made fun of because I’m gay", he says.
From April last year, the Health Department aimed to test 15 million South Africans for HIV by this June. So far, the campaign has tested 10.2 million people. This is out of 12 million citizens who were counseled for HIV testing since the start of the campaign. The enormity of the effort, which came into an already over-burdened health sector, has "tested the totality of the health system", says Dr Thobile Mbengashe, the Chief Director of the HIV and AIDS and STIs unit in the national Health Department.
"It has always been unknown to what extent can you stretch the system to actually achieve high output, high qualities and reach many people within a short time. That’s the first thing. I think the second one is that you can learn more by doing and fix the things that need to be fixed as you do. And you actually become very effective. Let me give you an example. When we started the campaign, there were only about 490 facilities that were providing ART services out of the 4 300. Between the time when the HCT campaign was launched and now, over 2 000 facilities are able to provide ART. We learned that it is possible to provide ART services and provide quality using nurse practitioners who are actually trained to provide this. We had about 290 nurses who were actually qualified to provide ART. We trained and we have now 1 700. Those are actually providing services in those health facilities which were not there. And all that was done during this time", Mbengashe says.
"This is learning as we go, it’s about doing things differently", says SANAC’s Mark Heywood. "Some people might argue that you should not undertake a campaign like this at all until you are absolutely sure that the system can support that sort of campaign. But I think in a country like ours to do that would be irresponsible because part of this campaign is about: How can we get ahead of the HIV epidemic? One way to get ahead of the epidemic is to normalise HIV testing, is to use HIV testing as a way to try to begin to break down the stigma around HIV, and it’s to use HIV testing to try to get much larger numbers of people onto treatment. There are certain risks in that. But I think it is more irresponsible to sit back and wait until we have the perfect system before we embark on something like this", he adds.
Of the 10.2 million people who tested for HIV in the campaign, about 1.7 million were found to be HIV-positive. About 1.4 million people have been put onto the government’s AIDS treatment programme since April last year. But it’s not clear as to how many are receiving treatment as a result of testing in this campaign. "One of the lessons we have learned", says Dr Thobile Mbengashe of the Health Department, "is that the biggest need is that once people have been identified positive, they must not be lost from the system. If you lost from the system you might have done something extraordinary in terms of coming up early, but you might not get the good benefit of starting treatment early. So, this is one of the components that we are really strengthening in our system".
The formal run of the HCT campaign officially ended in June. The Health Department is yet to communicate the final achievements of the campaign, which it says will continue being offered to encourage as many South Africans as possible to know their HIV status.
02 August, 2011 – MSM Global Forum
Out of the Box: Queer Youth in South Africa Today
A new study provides a snapshot of what life is like for young lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered and intersex people (LGBTIs) in South Africa today, 17 years after the advent of democracy. The report, titled Out of the Box: Queer Youth in South Africa Today, was commissioned by Atlantic Philanthropies and written by Marian Nell and Janet Shapiro. Their findings are based on interviews with young LGBTIs across race, class and gender. The authors say that they sought to discover if "democracy brought the greater tolerance and celebration of diversity enshrined in the Bill of Rights" and "is life better today for young LGBTIs than in 1994?"
According to the study’s foreword, they found a contradictory reality: "Young LGBTIs are exposed to the same challenges as most South African youth – but these are made worse by continuing homophobia at home, at school, in churches and in society at large, despite the social changes of the recent past. "Young LGBTIs continue to experience isolation and are prone to disproportionate rates of mental illness, suicide, and alcohol and drug abuse, when compared to heterosexual youth. Government youth development polices have largely failed to address homophobia."
The comprehensive report looks at areas including coming out, seeking support in the community, LGBTI organisations, progressive religion, love, marriage and children, queer activism, setting up and running a youth group and advice for educators and leaders. Nell and Shapiro say that one positive they found was the growth of an organised LGBTI community and organisations that provide safe spaces, support and services to young LGBTIs.
The report made four key findings:
• LGBTI youth are not making themselves visible enough and the world they live in conspires, usually unintentionally, to make them invisible.
• LGBTI youth face challenges that are peculiar to their community and need specific attention – but they also confront the hardship experienced by all young South Africans and share their needs.
• LGBTI youth are finding support in the community and, where it does not exist, creating it for themselves.
• LGBTI youth have a sense of agency and see themselves as contributing to a future South Africa characterised by respect for diversity and human rights for all.
"Youth LGBTI groups are springing up on university campuses, and in townships and rural towns around the country. A new landscape is emerging, in which the post-apartheid LGBTI generation can live more fulfilled lives," said the authors. They added: "Young LGBTIs are more easily able to articulate their legitimate aspirations: to have unencumbered fun, to ‘have lived and loved’, to marry their partners and to have families."
View original article here
August 03, 2011 – African Activist
Out In Africa South African Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
The 18th Out In Africa South African Gay & Lesbian Film Festival runs from 12-21 August in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Launched in 1994 to celebrate the inclusion of sexual orientation in the constitution, the festival also increases the visibility of LGBTIs in South Africa’s social and cultural life, counters negative images of LGBTIs in traditional and religious communities, and serves as a platform for discussion and debate about LGBTI issues. According to Media Update, "the lineup, drawn from fourteen countries, includes six feature films, four documentaries and nine short films."
This year’s selection showcases the challenges that still face the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community. Getting Out, co-directed by Alexandra Chapman, Chris Dolan, and Daniel Neumann, is an epic documentary about three gay Africans seeking asylum because of the persecution they’ve experienced. Sadly, neither South Africa nor Europe turn out to be GLBT sanctuaries either. In Waited For, Nerina Penzhorn’s touching documentary about adoption in South Africa, her mixed race, lesbian couple is told clearly that they’re last in line after heterosexual, same race, same religion parents.
Glitterboys and Ganglands peeks behind the pink veil preparations for Miss Gay Western Cape. Directed by Arthur C. Clarke winning novelist Lauren Beukes (Zoo City), Glitterboyshad extra screenings added during its sell-out run at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival. This year’s selection can compete with any other festival on quality; a number of the films are stacking up accolades.
4 August 2011 – LGBT Asylum News
Life as a gay refugee in South Africa
by Junior Mayema
Life in South Africa as a gay black foreigner is a horrendous nightmare. Well, many days I wish it were just a nightmare. But it is the reality for me. This reality is one full of intolerance, discrimination, and prejudice. I am a refugee and a gay activist – this is my story. I fled my home after my mother tried to inject me with a syringe full of gasoline when she discovered that I was gay. After leaving my mother’s house, I began living with my father and I attended Bandundu University. I became friends with other gay students at the university and began to date and experiment. During this time, my father saw a picture taken of me kissing another man. After confronting me, my father and mother forced me into a “healing process” run by a pastor. I was made to fast for days in order to expel the “devil spirit” out of my body.
When I did not change my behavior, my father spread the news of my homosexuality to the community. Local boys began to beat me. I was particularly weary of a notorious group that hunted homosexuals. My friends and family shunned and banished me. My life was in danger and I had nowhere to go, so I came to South Africa. I came full of hope that things would get better; that I would be able to live my life without fear of being persecuted for who I am. And in some ways I do feel safer here than I did in Congo. But after being here for a year, I can honestly say that this hope did not come true.
Life is tough here. Firstly, there is a lot of homophobia in the Congolese community in South Africa. When I first arrived, I lived with my cousin. When he found out from my family in Congo that I was gay, he kicked me out on the street. My mother ensured that no other family member in South Africa took me in after that. Since then I have moved around a lot, living with different Congolese people, but the story is always the same: once they detect that I am gay, they kick me out. I also lived in some shelters and there I experienced xenophobia from South Africans. Even some members from the South African LGBTI community were not helpful. Their priority is to help South African LGBTI individuals, but other LGBTI refugees, like myself, have less access to support groups and assistance. It is tiring to be reminded every day that you are ‘not a South African’, and it hurts even more when it comes from other LGBTI people.
I wish I could just get to my feet and find a job. But finding a job in South Africa is tough enough as it is; trying to find a job as an openly gay foreigner is close to impossible. I have been looking for a job since I came here and I felt that most of the managers were judging me by my ‘gay’ physical appearance. Although the South African constitution protects LGBTI people from discrimination, homophobia is deeply rooted in South African society. The majority of South Africans, like in most other African countries, think homosexuality is a western culture emulated by some African youths who are being recruited by white sugar daddies into homosexuality.
What can be done to change the desperate situation that I and countless other LGBTI refugees in South Africa are facing? Changing the culture of homophobia is difficult, but it has to be done, step by step. More people need to start campaigning against homophobia within our communities. We need to raise awareness and take action against xenophobia and racism in parts of the South African LGBTI community. We need to create a shelter or accommodation for LGBTI refugees in South Africa to help them get on their feet.
We have to build up a job referral system for LGBTI people to tolerant or ‘gay-friendly’ businesses and managers. It is unlikely that things will get better in the near future. Yesterday I got kicked out by yet another Congolese host, on my 24th birthday. But hope is what dies last.
Junior Mayema is a volunteer with People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP)
August 19th, 2011 – Behind The Mask
Open Society Hosts Meeting Of LGBT Activists From Southern Africa
The Open Society Initiatives for Southern Africa (OSISA) has just concluded a three day meeting in Johannesburg for LGBT activists from 13 regional countries. During the meeting participants were asked to form three groups (Lesbians /Bisexual women/WSW, Gay/Bisexual/ MSM and Transgender /FTM/MTF/Non conforming) to identify the problems faced by each group regarding HIV/Aids. Most of the groups shared the same sentiments such as legal framework, laws and policies that hinder the LGBT community from accessing services. They also discussed access to justice, access to education, social empowerment, socio-cultural issues and hate crimes.
“It was open and fair enough to cover HIV related issues facing LGBT communities regionally and I strongly believe that all the ideas together will bring change in African countries” said TP Mothopeng from Lesotho’s Matrix Support Group. During the meeting activists also shared their experiences on sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV/Aids, examined country specific context for LGBT and HIV issues, developed an advocacy agenda and strategy and then elected 10 people who will now represent the LGBT group at the next joint workshop which will take place in October where the three key groups will be represented.
Ian Swartz, OSISA programme coordinator for LGBTI special initiatives said in his opening remarks “The goal of the meeting is to build the capacity of the three key groups (LGBTI activists, women living with HIV, and sex workers) in 13 countries to develop a regional advocacy and lobbying strategy to address HIV and Aids.” For many years the HIV within LGBT sector has been led by gay men and it is only recently that the WSW were brought on board. As a result of these changes this meeting was totally different and the Trans community found they scored more nominations than the other identities to be on the working group.
In October 2010 UNIFEM [now UN Women] issued a call for proposals to work with three marginalized communities [namely sex workers, women living with HIV and LGBT communities] to develop regional advocacy strategies on HIV and Aids. The HIV and Aids programme, in partnership with the Women’s Rights programme and the Special Initiative on LGBT rights submitted a proposal and were awarded the contract.
22 August, 2011 – Anova Health Institute
Anova Releases Sex Education Manual for HIV Positive Pre-teens
The Anova Health Institute has released its long-awaited landmark manual, titled: Sexual and Reproductive Health for young HIV Positive Adolescents: The club concept in support groups. The manual is specifically designed to help guide health care workers in educating HIV-positive young people on sex andsexuality in relation to their HIV-status. HIV treatment and provision in South Africa has improved in leaps and bounds over the last decade and as a result the face of HIV in South Africa has changed. HIV-positive people now live long and healthy lives and children born HIV-positive can live a near normal lifespan.
This new generation, known as the born-positive generation, presents unprecedented challenges to individuals and organisations involved in supporting and caring for them. The most urgent of these challenges is how to address the developmental needs of HIV-positive teens, specifically the crucial developmental milestone of puberty. Today the new born-positive generation is having to negotiate the normal sexual desires and developments that all teens encounter but their identity as HIV-positive individuals makes this processeven more complex than usual.
HIV-positive children face a barrage of additional demands such as coping with concerns about treatment regimens, doctor’s appointments, reduced life expectancy, stigma and the possibility of infecting others. And while young HIV-positive teens struggle to make head or tail of their situation, their care-givers often find themselves in a similar situation. In the context of a society in which HIV-stigma is prevalent and there are cultural and social taboos around talking about sex, health care workers and caregivers alike can find it difficult to deal with educating born-positive teens about sex and sexuality.
In addition to this there has been a lack of resources for healthcare workers wanting to assist HIV positive children in managing the transition from childhood to teens. Anova’s manual aims to address this gap by supporting health care workers, and through them, HIV-positive teens as well as their parents and caregivers who may be struggling to address sexual and reproductive health issues with their children. The guide is aimed at very young adolescents (VYA) between the ages of 10 and 14 because this is considered to be a window of opportunity. If HIV-positive children are targeted at this age, health care workers, caregivers and counsellors can equip them with the knowledge needed to make sound choices around their own sexual health and the sexual health of others before they start engaging in sex.
The manual is divided into several group sessions, which comprehensively address the issues in an age-appropriate manner by using simple representational illustrations and activities that are designed to provoke discussion, evoke amusement and dispel embarrassment. Session topics include the basics of HIV, body changes, sex, pregnancy, STI’s, contraception, adherence and disclosure using simple representational illustrations and activities that are designed to provoke discussion, evoke amusement and dispel embarrassment. Gender issues, stigma, abuse, children’s rights, self-awareness and building resilience also feature as specific activities.
August 26, 2011 – African Activist
Noxolo Is Not Sleeping
Hundreds of LGBTI activists marched on the KwaThema police station on 19 August to protest police inaction on "corrective rape" in the township. The march was organised by the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC). It has been three months since the rape and murder of lesbian activist Noxolo Nogwaza and the case has not progressed. The marchers sang "Noxolo is not sleeping" and demanded action.
From the Mail & Guardian online:
"It’s been three months since Noxolo was brutally murdered but we have seen no progress. We want the police to speed up the investigations," said Lindi Masindwa, deputy chairwoman of the ANC Women’s League in Ekurhuleni. Masindwa is also a member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee, which organised last Friday’s protest. The group presented a memorandum to Ekurhuleni metro police department chief Hlula Msimang, calling for an end to homophobia in the police service and for a greater commitment to investigating hate crimes against gays and lesbians.
Nogwaza’s cousin, Nonyaniso Nogwaza, told the Mail & Guardian that the family had made several attempts to get an update from the police but were repeatedly told that "the case is still under investigation". "The only way to bring peace to our hearts is if the police find the people who killed Noxolo and bring them to justice," Nogwaza said. It is not the first time gay rights activists have marched to the KwaThema police station. In 2009 the murder of another lesbian, Girly Nkosi, sparked similar outrage, but the perpetrators have still not been found. "We don’t want [Noxolo’s] case to go up in smoke like Girly’s," said Masindwa.
An escalation of protest is planned in 30 days if police do not respond to the demands in the memorandum. The Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee has given the KwaThema police and the provincial commissioner of the SAPS, General Mzwandile Petros, 30 days to answer the demands in their memorandum. If no one responded, the committee said, its members would march to Petros’s Johannesburg office. "We will continue living in fear unless the criminals are brought to justice," said protester Leonard Nkosi.
Noxolo Nogwaza was found raped and murdered in an alley in KwaThema township on Easter Sunday morning. Noxolo was a member of Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC). The violent murders of lesbians Eudy Simelani and Girly “Sgelane” Nkosi and hate crimes towards LGBTIs in general prompted the formation of EPOC in July 2009. Ms Makhotso Maggie Sotyu (MP), Deputy Minister of Police, spoke at the recent Free Gender conference in the Khayelitsha township.
On behalf of the Minister of Police, and as a Deputy Minister of Police, I would like to open my remarks by an unconditional apology to all those that have been brutalised, attacked, discriminated against, and raped solely because they have a different sexual orientation. Homophobia and hate crimes are unacceptable, and we are saying as ANC-led Government, enough is enough. We will and cannot tolerate that, some section of our citizens continue to suffer in painful silence whist their own Constitution protect them to live the lifestyle they choose, lawfully.
August 29th, 2011 – Behind The Mask
LGBTIA Youth Network Hosts Successful Fifth Annual Conference
South Africa’s umbrella network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTIA) student societies, the Kaleidoscope Youth Network recently hosted its fifth annual youth leaders Lekgotla (conference). Organisers said the conference held at Kwena Lodge in Potchefstroom (an academic city in the North West Province of South Africa) between August 4 and 10, 2011, “enriched knowledge” and was “successful.” “The dedication and hard work by this year’s delegates explored a new level of the culture of knowledge and interest in the LGBTIA issues by students in the different organisations under the KYN,” reads a statement by the KYN after the meeting. “From the first day of the conference, there was a lot of excitement and intrigue building up to the days to follow. All the excitement and curiosity about different issues was facilitated by energetic, dedicated and knowledgeable women in the LGBTIA sector,” the statement continued.
Previously the KYN has stated that many of the LGBTIA organisations at tertiary institutions across the country have very little training and experience in the field of activism. However each is in a position to affect a great deal of change and have the ability to influence not only the student bodies they engage with, but also their wider communities. KYN’s position is that there is a considerable amount of work that needs to be done in terms of raising awareness around issues of discrimination and hate crimes.
The KYN’s aim is to develop and implement strategies that seek to eradicate discrimination and hate crimes in all forms at tertiary institutions and promote awareness and wellness. The KYN operates through an interactive network of student leaders of LGBTIA societies, which carry out initiatives, raise issues, and spread awareness. The Network is governed by an executive committee and meets annually through the Lekgotlas to network, engage in policy review, undergo workshops and elect a new executive committee.
The KYN asserted that, this year’s Lekgotla was filled with “new faces and driven student bodies that were ready to learn and instil knowledge in each other.” It was driven by the recognition of great participation and interaction and awards were given to members of the student bodies with the aim of appreciating their hard work and making their voices heard. Loud Enuf, from the University of Western Cape was awarded an accolade for the Best Participatory Society and Shadows in the Rainbow from the Durban University of Technology was awarded for Best Developmental Progress in a Society.
September 2nd, 2011 – Behind The Mask
Second Part Of Transgender Movement Exchange Programme Set For Cape Town
The second part of a three year transgender movement, Exchange Programme takes place in Cape Town from September 6 to 13, 2011. The first part of this exchange programme took place in Namibia from May 24 to 28 last year. This programme is a partnership between by Gender DynamiX (GDX) and Support Initiative for People with atypical Sex Development (SIPD). The programme commenced last year, and has produced a DVD titled ‘Exquisite Gender’ with its participant’s at the end of last year. The programme will include training in organizational development and fundraising. This will include topics such as how to develop mission and vision, how to recruit the right board, its roles and responsibilities, management strategies etc.
Other topics are patriarchy, feminism and power, Strategic planning for region, transitioning, Intersex follow -up, Discussions on trans men and trans women surgeries, the needs of the transgender movement in Africa, HIV, intersections of vulnerability and preventing activist burn-out. There will also be a follow-up of the first Exchange Programme, this will be in the form of an update from SIPD, GDX and funders.
The programme aims to create awareness that transgendered and Intersex people exist in Africa which is still considered UnAfrican. The programme also aims to train its participants to be future activists and to assist other African countries to have their leaders on issues concerning transgendered and intersex people. Previous participants involved in this programme have been activists from different countries in Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. In May this year the programme was in Uganda where participants came from Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. Fourteen participants took part, 10 were trans men, four trans women and one intersex person who identified as a man.
Amongst the organisations visited by the programme were the human rights organisations, Refugee Law Project, and a number of LGBTI organisations. These were visited by programme participants to establish how they handle the homophobia and transphobia in their country and what they intend to do about it. Chan Mubanga, a trans man from Zambia who has attended the programme feels that the Exquisite Gender project built his capacity by introducing him to video and media advocacy, storytelling techniques and reinforced the importance of documentation.
He said, “In Uganda as an activist working in a hostile environment it was inspiring to meet SMUG staff and hear their experiences. Also the time shared with participants reflecting on our work, lives and purpose of the exchange programme helped me see the dynamics within the group and that our needs were not static but somehow similar.”
He said that he benefited because the programme created opportunities to build alliances and networks and friendships. The “Learn and Share” experience also benefited the movement in Zambia. Mubanga added, “We strive to be up to speed with the other movements, empowering our staff with skills learned from attending this programme. As an individual i have grown to appreciate the struggles we face as HRDs, learnt more about trans issues in and out of the LGB sphere. My work has become more focused, objectives clearly defined because of lessons learned in the previous workshops. The time table is unrealistic and it is unfortunate that we are never consulted on any decision. But such is life. The time table is already cast in stone so crying over it now is pointless.”
September 20, 2011 – African Activist
Ekurhuleni Pride March: "Crush Hate"
There was an urgency to the South African Ekurhuleni Pride march last weekend in KwaThema. On Easter Sunday morning, Noxolo Nogwaza was found raped and murdered in a township alley. The Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC) organised a march last month on the KwaThema police station to protest police inaction in Noxolo’s case and others. The theme of this third annual Ekurhuleni Pride march was, "Crush Hate."
From Behind the Mask:
Sipiwe Nkabinde from the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee, EPOC said, “It is very important to make people realise that gays and lesbians are here to stay and are also human beings.” She praised the organising committee for a job well done and wished that there “were more people from outside who came to Kwa-Thema and to support the LGBTI community here.” Sifiso Nkosi Miss Gay 2011 Ekurhuleni who also attended said, “Today is about pride, it’s about educating the local community and makes them understand that we are also part and parcel of human being, we are not different. It is also an event where we get to know each other and to socialise.”…
Read entire article
September 27, 2011 – University Cambridge
Confronting homophobia in South Africa
Cambridge academic Dr Andrew Tucker champions a direct approach to challenging the homophobia that destroys so many lives in South Africa. He has helped to set up a hard-hitting healthcare campaign that encourages a radical change in attitudes within the country’s most deprived communities. ‘Being gay is not a sickness or a choice.’ This is just one of the uncompromising messages in a bold poster campaign being rolled out by the newly launched Ukwazana Programme which works in the sprawling townships around Cape Town. Another of its messages reads: ‘We are all men, we are all African, some of us love other men.’
The isiXhosa word Ukwazana translates as bringing people together: this is the mission at the heart of the programme. Instigated by Health4Men (a project of the South African Anova Health Institute) working in partnership with the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies, the campaign aims to reach out to the many men who are unable to be open about their sexuality and are therefore unable to access basic healthcare to prevent HIV/AIDS infection. The plain-speaking posters are just a small part of a far broader project designed to confront homo-prejudice, build social capital, and sensitise law enforcement and clinical staff about the health needs of township Men who have Sex with Men (MSM).
In developing messages and initiatives that speak directly to MSM, and challenge some of the deep-seated and destructive prejudices associated with homosexuality in Africa, the Ukwazana programme has drawn on research carried out by Cambridge University academic Dr Andrew Tucker. For the past eight years, he has been working in Uganda and South Africa with gay communities affected by HIV/AIDS and homophobia – and in particular looking at gay men in deprived communities and uptake of healthcare provision. Dr Tucker, who helped to set up and currently consults on the Ukwazana Programme, had long seen the need for a more socially-orientated approach towards engaging MSM in places like Cape Town. As he explained, the provision of condoms and information is not enough to reduce HIV spread in places with gross social inequalities: “It is vital that the deep-rooted structural barriers that can limit health-seeking behaviour are also addressed.”
At Cambridge University, Dr Tucker is the Deputy Director of the Centre for Gender Studies in the Department of Geography. His research focuses on understanding the diverse ways in which same-sex desire can become visible in different communities in Africa and explores ways of servicing often marginalised groups with health services. He was also a close friend of David Kato, the gay rights activist recently murdered in Uganda. At Dr Tucker’s invitation, Kato came to Cambridge in February 2010 to explain what it was like to be a gay man fighting a state which did not care for the HIV health needs of marginalised gay men. “David Kato’s personal struggle as an individual and as a campaigner drew attention to a complex set of challenges that besets the whole of Africa, causing untold misery. Many gay men remain unable to access HIV treatment and care.” said Dr Tucker. “Attempts to import simplistic and patronising copies of Western rights into African cultures have created more problems. The role of the evangelical church in encouraging extreme views is yet another factor in the escalating fear and panic about homosexuality.”
South Africa is the only African country to have a constitution that protects sexual minorities and formally recognises same-sex marriages. However, recent research by Dr Tucker in the Cape Town region strongly suggests that gay rights are an exclusive privilege of the white and well-heeled – a small but high profile subset. He says: “If you’re well off you can live the kind of lifestyle that allows you to be yourself. Millions of men living in poverty in the townships suffer sustained discrimination and are thus unable to access the healthcare they so desperately need. Their needs are largely ignored.” Dr Tucker believes that homo-prejudice must be directly confronted to reduce discrimination, increase self-esteem, and encourage men to engage in health-seeking behaviour. “Vast numbers of men in Africa remain isolated and therefore cut off from wider friendship support networks and access to health services. Many live out their lives bereft of love and, because of their extreme marginalisation from wider society, never receive the medical treatment now freely available to others,” he said.
October 3rd, 2011 – Behind The Mask
Joburg’s Loud And Proud Gay Pride Ends Week Of LGBTI Activities
by Jerina Chendze Messie
Thousands of out and proud members of the LGBTI community and their supporters flocked to Zoo Lake on Saturday for the annual Joburg Gay Pride, the biggest event on the Gauteng gay calendar. Joburg Pride is an annual celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) identity and sexual diversity. It consists of a weeklong festival of cultural, social, activist and entertainment events held in Johannesburg culminating in a street parade followed by a mardi-gras offering entertainment and a platform for community expression.
Some of the events in the week included a roundtable discussion of LGBTI rights organized by the Helen Suzman Foundation in association with the Open Society Foundation for South Africa on September 26 and the first ever African LGBT Business and Human Rights Forum sponsored by amongst others, blue chip firms, IBM, HP and Anglo-American. Themed “Born This Gay”, this year was the 22nd annual edition of the Joburg Gay Pride and as usual events began with a parade in which members of the LGBTI community wearing purple, pink and other bright colours took to the streets marching from Zoo Lake to the Rosebank Mall and back.
The festivities continued in the afternoon at Zoo Lake Sport Club where more than 25000 people were entertained by local artists and DJ’s such as Lira who rocked the crowd with renditions of some of her most popular hits. There were also performances by a number of fabulous drag acts including one act who sang Lady Gaga’s popular smash hit, Born this Way. The Joburg Gay Pride Festival is a not-for profit publicly transparent Section 21 company registered in April 2007 (Registration number: 2007/013596/08).
It was constituted to organise the annual Joburg Pride event in a credible and manner on behalf of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community. The company says on it’s website that it “aims to professionally and responsibly organise a regional annual Pride festival in Gauteng that brings together members of the LGBTI community to create public visibility, celebrate and build confidence in our identity and diversity, and offer an umbrella under which the community can fully develop.”
Read complete story here
October 5, 2011 – Global Post
Mounting violence haunts South Africa’s gays and mobilizes activists – Rainbow nation besieged by attacks including ‘corrective rape’ against lesbians.
by Erna Smith
Cape Town, South Africa – Just as Nono was beginning to understand her lesbian sexual identity at the age of 18, a male cousin began to rape her. Before the first attack, he admonished, “Now I am going to teach you how to be a lady.” He threatened to kill her if she told anyone. Nono, who has asked that her last name not be used, learned two years ago that her cousin had been shot and killed in an unrelated incident. “In my heart I was so happy,” the 29-year-old said of her cousin’s death. “I thought, ‘Now I can live my life like I want as a lesbian.’”
Nono said she never reported her abuse to police. She belongs to a silent majority of gay South African women who have been victimized by “corrective rape,” a controversial term describing the practice of straight men raping lesbians to “correct” their sexual orientation. “We have won so many rights to love more freely, but it hasn’t protected our bodily integrity.”
This year a series of highly publicized attacks in Pretoria, Cape Town and the Johannesburg area — including the rape and murder of lesbian activist Noxolo Nogwaza in the same township where national women’s soccer team captain Eudy Simelane was killed in 2008 — have pushed “corrective rape” back into the headlines and spurred the South African government to convene an interim task force on gender-based violence and to establish another task force to draft hate crimes legislation.
Read complete article here
October 12, 2011 – Stabrock News
Suriname coming out day has successful beginning
by Stabroek editor
(De Ware Tijd) Paramaribo – The organizers of Suriname’s first National Coming Out Day and the manifestation at Independence Square yesterday say that a start has been made with this activity and it can only become bigger. After a slow start, more and more people started showing up and yelled ‘It’s okay to be gay.’ The call by the event’s organizers, the LGTB Platform consisting of different gay rights organizations, to prominent politicians to show support seems to have been heeded. Parliamentarians Harish Monorath and Shailendra Girjasingh, as well as U.S. Ambassador John Nay attended the festivities.
“The USA has also had its problems with accepting gays. That did not change overnight. Each country arrives at acceptance at its own pace”, Nay said. “What is happening here is very positive and as Ambassador, I want to show my support. I hope that this will help to conduct a broader debate.”
31 October, 2011 – MSM Global Forum
South Africa: Constitution Hill Discussion Affirms Queer Love is a Human Right
Constitution Hill, one of South Africa’s most important heritage sites, last Friday October 28 paid homage to the LGBTI community with an event themed ‘Queer Love Is a Human Right.’ The event, which focused on the rights of LGBTI people as enshrined in the constitution, provided LGBTI people the opportunity to voice their frustrations against homophobia and discrimination experienced by gays, lesbians, and other minority groups in the country despite the fact that the Constitution was the world’s first to include sexual orientation in its protections.
Nkunzi Nkabinde, who works at Constitution Hill, welcomed the three guest speakers. These were Pindi Malaza from the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), Kwezilomso Ndazayo, Project Officer for the One in Nine Campaign and Mbuyiselo Botha the Sonke Gender Justice Network Media and Government Liaison officer. Their discourse with the audience involved topics such as hate crimes such as corrective rape and whether homosexuality is un-African. On the issue of corrective rape there was discussion around whether the term often used by perpetrators and the media was indeed the right terminology.
In her contribution to the discussion, Pindi Malaza from FEW took the audience through the terms “corrective rape” and “hate crime” and the meaning they convey. She said, “We need to look at the words such as ‘corrective rape’, ‘hate crime’ and think of how to define them for ourselves. We need to stop talking about corrective rape, it does not speak about the violence we suffer, and it is about other people pushing their own agenda.” For her part, Kwezilomso Ndazayo, from the One in Nine Campaign, a member-based movement that offers support to survivor of sexual violence said, “We must put knowledge at the centre of our work and we welcome spaces and opportunities like this to open the dialogue.”
Ndazayo also commented on the words used to define the violence against LGBTI people and explained that “The way we name things is a social construct and it has to be relevant. Whenever someone speaks it is always in relation with someone else. The way we name thing can either include or exclude.” On the issue of whether homosexuality is African or not she said, “Who gets to say what is African and what is not? Who is the custodian of African culture? No one get to say who you are or are not.” Ndazayo finished her contribution by saying “We must try and encourage a thinking society since. Every tool is a weapon if you know how to hold it.”
Full text of article available here
3 November 2011 – JournAids
HIV prevention and care for MSM still on lockdown
by Kim Johnson
The New Age (TNA) reports that visiting Limpopo Health and Social Development MEC Dikiledi Magadzi has encouraged inmates at Polokwane correctional facilities to know their health status by screening for conditions like HIV and TB. Whether or not health services being offered at prisons will include HIV messaging and care specifically targeted at men who have sex with men (MSM) remains uncertain. Although MSM have been recognised by the South African government as a group made especially vulnerable to HIV through stigma and a lack of prevention and care that addresses their unique needs, MSM targeted HIV prevention and care is not yet common practice in SA prisons.
MSM include gay men but also those men who identify as straight but engage in same sex sexual practices. Inmates are a prime example of MSM because while many inmates would label themselves as heterosexual, same sex sexual practices are common in male prison populations. Reasons for this include sex being used as a bartering tool; exchanged for goods, money and even protection. MSM require very specific messaging and interventions because they may not feel that HIV prevention messaging targeted at homosexual men applies to them. Anal sex is is also more risky than vaginal sex and different precautions, such as the use of water-based lubricants, should be taken.
The MEC visited the prison as part of an intensified case-finding campaign which shifts the emphasis from intervention to prevention. But prevention efforts in prisons are more likely to be weak if MSM targeted interventions are not put in place. This dimension of HIV prevention and care in prisons was also neglected by TNA journalist who covered the event, who rather than highlight this missed opportunity, quoted the minister verbatim for most of the article.