Gay RSA News & Reports 2011 Jan-Jun

1 South Africa’s New LGBTI Pride Flag 1/11

1aa Gay, HIV+ and not sad 1/11

1a African Same-Sex Sexualities and Gender Diversity Conference 2/11

1b BBC Debate on "Is homosexuality un-African?" Deeply Emotional 2/11

2 Cape Town – South Africa’s Rainbow City 3/11

3 South African lesbians campaign against corrective rape 3/11

4 ANC poised to apologise for disastrous Mbeki AIDS policy 3/11

5 Statements by African Group and RSA on the UN Joint Statement 3/11

6 South Africa’s Double Speak at the United Nations 3/11

7 Gay and HIV not a punishment from God 3/11

8 Lesbian raped and murdered in South African township 4/11

9 Symposium To Unravel HIV Issues Amongst MSM 4/11

10 Levels and Correlates of Internalized Homophobia Among MSM 4/11

11 Soweto Clinic Reaches Out To MSM 4/11

12 Lack of BTI people causes an imbalance in representation 5/11

13 U.N. Expert Highlights Xenophobia in South Africa 6/11

14 Gay rights are human rights 6/11

15 No place for homophobia here 6/11

16 Second Trans Organisation In South Africa 6/11

17 Project to Help Sexual Refugees 6/11

18 Africa: New light shed on male sex work 6/11

19 Report on the Top2Btm MSM Symposium 6/11

19a On the Ground with Brian Kanyemba 6/11

20 LGBT asylum seekers in South Africa 6/11

January 07,2011 – African Activist

South Africa’s New LGBTI Pride Flag

At one of the largest parties in South Africa, a new flag for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community was revealed. Cape Town’s gay village of De Waterkant has already adopted the flag as their own. According to Pride Cape Town: A crowd of 10 000 watched in anticipation as an enormous flag dropped and revealed for the first time the South African Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered flag at this year’s MCQP, one of the largest parties in the country.

The message of the Mother City Queer Project this year was that of Gay and South African Pride, as well as showing the value of upholding human rights. The designer of the flag Huge Brockman says ‘I truly believe we (the GLBT community) put the dazzle into our Rainbow nation and this flag is a symbol of just that…look at all these costumes, this event, even Cape Town at large. It is a testimony that we as the Gay community have a lot to offer in skills, talent, inspiration, business (millions in PINK MONEY) and life’.

Now in its fourteenth year, MCQP has grown to become a national and international cultural phenomenon, transcending race, culture, gender and sexuality. This year’s MCQP was bigger, better and more fabulous than ever as throngs of party-goers of all sexualities and races came together for an evening of fun, dancing, support and acceptance.

South Africa’s Gay community hosted this incredible event at Cape Town’s brand new Cape Town Stadium, with organizers Tommy Patterson and Ian McMahon providing the finest music and entertainment the city has ever witnessed.

January 31, 2011 – Sowetan Live

Gay, HIV+ and not sad

by Yngve Sjolund
Growing up, Rhulani Chauke knew he was different, but could not put his finger on it I am 21, I got HIV when I was 18. I call this my man, the man I sleep with every night As a young boy from Malamulele Village in Limpopo, Chauke, 21, admired his male teachers and he preferred to play with girls and dolls.
"I did not understand what was going on. My parents also came to understand that I was different from other boys. When I was 15, through reading, I got to understand what was going on with me. I realised that I was gay," Chauke confides.

He says in 2004 everything became clear when he read about gays and lesbians in magazines and when he saw a gay scene on television. "I realised I may be that kind of a person," he beams. "One day I decided to tell my community. And because I spent most of my time at school, I decided it would be good to start with my schoolmates," Chauke says.

During a free period, he broke the news to his classmates. "I said, guys I am gay and I am proud of it and I love guys and I want to embrace who I am," Chauke says. He says his classmates at Shikundu High School were shocked. "Some of them asked me, why, how can you be gay, are you cursed? They said this is a thing for white people and people in urban areas. They made jokes about me. Gay became my name," he says.

Chauke says surprisingly, there were those who were supportive. "My English teacher, a very religious man, was very supportive. He encouraged the class to understand that gay happens and explained that it is a part of life," Chauke says. He says in Limpopo people don’t know much about gays, and in rural areas they defined "gay" as a guy who sleeps with other guys, which confused them. "I was called sometimes to explain this gay thing to people on the street. I was willing to give as much information as I knew about. Sometimes they would call me to talk to some parents. I did this until I could come to Johannesburg, which is the capital of gays and everybody is free to be who they are, and now I am happy living my life," he says.

He had his first gay sexual experience with a friend in Grade 12 when he was 17. "In early July 2008 I found that I had anal warts. I went to the public clinic in Olifantsfontein. I was laughed at. Then I went to another clinic and they checked me for HIV. Unfortunately the result came back positive. I accepted it. I did not practice safe sex sometimes," he says. He says there are people who still don’t believe that condoms can protect you. "I blame myself for what happened because I went looking for it and it is with me now. HIV is a friend. It shows me how wonderful life is," Chauke says.

"I believe people will die. They don’t just go like that, something has to come up and HIV is one of those diseases. My body has to go through all the stages of life, all the experiences. Yes, I am happy to have this. I can call this my man, the man I sleep with every night," Chauke says.

Local research has indicated that HIV prevalence within black, gay, male communities in Gauteng’s townships is reportedly four times higher than that of the general population. This equates to almost 48 percent or almost one in two black gay men living with HIV in our townships. In Africa – a region not commonly associated with male-male HIV-transmission – there’s evidence that transmission is a significant problem.

Although statistics like these give an idea of the impact that Aids is having on MSM (a broad term, often used in public health interventions to refer to Men who have Sex with other Men, but may or may not identify themselves as homosexuals or gay, data is still extremely scarce in many countries, largely due to the fact that MSM often have no separate social identity and are simply counted as part of the general population. It is also due to the reluctance of governments to acknowledge MSM and to monitor this group.

MSM continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV-Aids. In low and middle-income countries, MSM are 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population. Despite elevated HIV prevalence rates and heightened vulnerability to factors that drive HIV transmission, MSM have been under-recognised, under-studied, under-funded, and under-served historically in the global response to HIV and Aids. Sex between men is also a prominent feature in the spread of HIV in less developed regions.

What would a good HIV prevention campaign be, that could have changed the direction of his life? Chauke says he thinks there needs to be more aggressive HIV campaigns that target gays and MSM, including door-to-door campaigns. "Condoms must be an everyday thing. People need to stress that HIV is here. Having people who are HIV-positive telling people how they feel. How they live. Encourage young people who are young – I am 21, I got it when I was 18 – and tell them that, ‘I am young and HIV-positive and living with it. I am young and it came into me’," he says.

February 22, 2011 – African Activist

African Same-Sex Sexualities and Gender Diversity Conference

Over 85 persons from all over Africa participated in the African Same-Sex Sexualities and Gender Diversity conference last week in Pretoria, South Africa. The central role of religion and spirituality among African lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons was one of the key topics at the conference. Another key topic was the importance of placing LGBTI activism in a context that resonates with African life. The central role of religion and spirituality in the lives of African LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersexed) was one of the first observations.

There is a strong religious and spiritual experience among African LGBTI persons. While in practice integration is not always smooth, same-sex sexuality and religion/spirituality are not mutually exclusive. The importance of collaborating with religious- and faith-based leaders, and traditional healers to improve the lives of LGBTI persons was emphasized. Over 85 people participated in Pretoria, South Africa, coming from all over the African continent, including countries such as Burundi, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The late David Kato, brutally murdered in Uganda, was scheduled to speak and was deeply missed during the conference.

Other highlights
A need was expressed for African persons with same-sex sexual desire and gender variant experiences to not automatically adopt Western labels, models and strategies. Historical, cultural, economical, and political conditions require a liberation paradigm that is contextualized and resonates with African life.
There is a strong need for the acknowledgement for the diversity of same-sex sexual desires and practices as well as gender variance, and the interaction between both. While unity and solidarity are crucial to promoting change, too much would be lost if it results in singular prescribed ways of being LGBTI.

For the first time a series of portraits of 10 African transgender activists was exhibited on African soil. The exhibition, “Proudly African and Transgender,” is a collaboration of the artist Gabrielle Le Roux and several transgendered persons. Intended to create more understanding and awareness, the portraits tell moving stories of pain but also show strength and pride in the face of adversity and oppression.

Outspoken Radio broadcast several important interviews with conference organisers (starts at 31:00). Conference presentations will be available in a few months…here Religion plays a central role in the progress of LGBTI rights in Africa. Last week, the Malawi Council of Churches officially supported the criminalisation of sex between women by the government. The people most impacted by religious-based homophobia are often LGBTI persons of faith themselves. You may view the exhibit Proudly African and Transgender at Black Looks.

February 28, 2011 – African Activist

BBC Debate on "Is homosexuality un-African?" Deeply Emotional

By Ben Cashdan on Vimeo.

Protester Outside Studio
The BBC World News debate in Johannesburg, South Africa on the question "Is homosexuality un-African?" almost came to blows on Sunday. The debate included Ugandan MP David Bahati, the lead sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. Bahati said that the debate made him more determined than ever to pass his bill in Uganda’s Parliament. BBC World News will televise the debate on March 12 and 13.
The five-member studio discussion panel included David Bahati, the MP behind the Ugandan bill which seeks to impose the death penalty in certain cases of homosexuality, the former president of Botswana, Festus Mogae, as well as South African writer Eusebius Mckaiser.

Studio audience members were seemingly evenly split, representing various LGBT activist groups as well as anti-gay organisations including the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP)…

Kukkuk said: "The shouting from both sides in the audience was so loud that you couldn’t hear the people speak. It nearly came to blows." A key issue in the debate was the question of whether homosexuality is “un-African”, a position vigorously defended by Bahati, who is a born-again Christian. He also claimed in the debate that children were being "recruited" by gays in Uganda and that gays and lesbians were placing the family under threat. During the discussion, Mogae said that he supported the legalisation of homosexually and revealed that during his ten year tenure as president he ordered police not prosecute gays and lesbians under his country’s anti-gay laws.

When asked why he had not worked to decriminalise homosexuality while president, Mogae reportedly replied that "I did not want to lose an election just for gays". He advocated gentle persuasion, debate and discussion to bring people around. According to Kukkuk, Bahati was shocked to be faced with a lesbian couple from the audience proudly kissing. "He said that he was offended [by the kiss] and later said that the debate had only made him more determined to push through his Anti-Homosexuality Bill in parliament," said Kukkuk…

Mazibuko Jara, the Chairperson of The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, told Mambaonline that the protest aimed to send a message to Bahati that he "must take responsibility for the death of David Kato," the recently slain Ugandan LGBT activist. "Next time we will not be so kind to [Bahati] and allow him to speak. He should be handed over to the criminal justice system," added Jara. Other activists slammed the South African government for allowing Bahati to enter the country. The BBC World debate on homosexuality in Africa will be broadcast on BBC World on 12 and 13 March. Check local schedules for more details.

Watch video

3 March 2011 – PinkNews

Travel: Cape Town – South Africa’s Rainbow City

by Adam Smith
Cape Town could be South Africa’s official gay city – rainbows are everywhere, from tourism board leaflets to the floor at the airport. While there’s no handholding to the same degree as Madrid or Amsterdam, it’s evident there are plenty of gay couples out and about, and although there is a lively gay scene, that is certainly not the only place you’ll find the odd homo.
The city centre could easily be mistaken for Melbourne or Brisbane. The combination of good weather, great food, relaxed atmosphere and hoards of tanned, sickeningly good-looking people definitely has an Australian feel to it. But the ever-present Table Mountain and subtle yet distinct African feel quickly brings you back to Cape Town.

Cape Town city centre is quite small and easily navigated on foot, with all the main sights within easy walking distance from each other, although some sights, such as the District 6 Museum and the V&A Waterfront, might be better approached by taxi if you’re alone as they involve a short hike through some deserted areas. The crime here isn’t on the same scale as Johannesburg, it’s pretty safe during the day, but bear in mind that huge numbers of locals live in abject poverty away from the affluent city and coastal suburbs. Taxis are so cheap, and it makes sense to use them at night for anything more than short trips around the centre.

There is much to do in the city during the day. Table Mountain is an obvious must, although try to do this on the first clear day of your stay as the mountain is often surrounded by cloud. This, along with frequent windy days, means the cable car to the top could be closed. The area around Greenmarket Square has a large crafts market with vendors from South Africa and the rest of the continent offering traditional carved ornaments, jewellery, and African art.

For beach lovers, the suburbs of Camps Bay and Clifton have white sand and clear waters. Camps Bay has a large beach with a promenade of eateries and shops, and is popular with surfers as well as wealthy locals and tourists. Steps take you down to the secluded Clifton’s beaches from the main road. The beaches here are named, imaginatively, Beaches 1, 2, 3 & 4. Beach 3 is popular with gay people, while Beach 4 is larger and more family orientated. Clifton has the luxury of being ‘wind free’; a label applied to a select few suburbs along the coast that are sheltered from the strong South-Westerly winds by the Table Mountain range. Clifton and Camps Bay are a little out of the city centre, and are best visited by car, but there are minibuses going there from the centre, just look for one heading in the right direction and wave it down to ask where it’s going. There is supposedly a municipal bus service, but relying on this isn’t advisable, as we saw no evidence it existed for the entire duration of our stay!

With several large universities and a youthful population, Cape Town has developed a lively nightlife. You can enjoy a decent night out with dinner, drinks, dancing and a taxi home for less than £40, so there’s no excuse not to. Areas such as Camps Bay and Clifton specialize in high-class nightlife, and Prince Harry has even been seen partying in the beachside bars around here. In the centre, the scene is more aimed towards local 20-somethings and backpackers, with prices and dress codes to match. Long Street and Kloof Street are the main centres of nightlife here.
There are quite a few gay venues, mostly to the North-West of the centre around Somerset Road. We visited Bronx, which has established itself as a mainstay of the scene. It has sensibly built the dance floor around a central bar, meaning you’re never too far away from the next drink. Free or cheap entry, lots of cute boys with their tops off and friendly staff make this a great place to end up at on a night out.

If you’re looking for something more relaxed, The Shack is a huge, grungy place with lots of seating, pool tables, a pizza kitchen and beers for a little over a quid. It’s not specifically gay, but it shouldn’t be too hard to make new friends here. All the taxi drivers know where it is; it’s best not to go by foot as it is a little out of the centre. If you’re hungry when you leave get yourself a snack at the hotdog stand across the road – watch out for dripping sauce as they are rammed full of salsa.

Another mixed venue is Neighbourhood on Long Street. Like many bars on this street it’s on the first floor and has a balcony you can sit out on and watch people going about their evening. On the night we went it had a fairly lethal offer on cocktails that were not only cheap but expertly made. For a more civilized evening head to the V&A Waterfront, a huge development of restaurants, bars and shops that caters for every taste possible, although it can feel a little sterile and generic; you could be in an historic version of Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quay (if Portsmouth was 30 degrees in January and had seals frolicking on the beach that is). Additionally, close to the Bronx there is a new, large centre called Cape Quarter, where there are loads of restaurants and bars. This is on the edge of the gay village, making it a convenient place to begin the evening.

It’s worth remembering drinks are not only cheaper in Cape Town, but a lot stronger. Many of the local beers are over 5% and spirit measures are usually larger. While many venues stay open until 4am, there is often a 2am limit on serving alcohol.

Read article

15 March 2011 – PinkNews

South African lesbians campaign against corrective rape

by Jessica Geen
Lesbian activists in the South African capital of Cape Town held a demonstration outside parliament yesterday to call for more action on the problem of ‘corrective rape’. The 25 campaigners from lesbian group Luleki Sizwe want Justice Minister Jeff Radebe to recognise the issue as a hate crime. ‘Corrective rape’, as it is known, is the rape of lesbians to try and ‘turn’ them straight. Campaigners say it is becoming more common.

The most high-profile case was in 2008, when lesbian footballer Eudy Simelane was raped, beaten and murdered. Two men were jailed for her killing. As well as demonstrating outside parliament, Luleki Sizwe has organised a 170,000-signature petition from around the world asking the government to look at the issue. Luleki Sizwe founder Ndumie Funda told the Canadian Press: “We have shown that we can mobilise tens of thousands of people in South Africa and around the world, and the ministry now knows that they can no longer ignore our long fight against corrective rape. The question now is what they will actually do about it. The ball is in their court.”

The groups wants research to be commissioned into corrective rape and a national plan to tackle sexual violence, as well as hate crimes. A 2009 report suggested that there was a rise in ‘corrective rapes’ and assaults on lesbians in South Africa. Charity ActionAid said women in Johannesburg and Cape Town were suffering an increase in homophobic attacks and sexual assaults which are seen as a form of punishment or “cure”. Figures suggest there are an estimated 500,000 rapes in South Africa every year and for every 25 men accused of rape in the country, 24 walk free.

March 20,2011 – African Sexuality

ANC poised to apologise for disastrous Mbeki AIDS policy

Cape Town — The African National Congress (ANC) is planning a post-election apology to the nation for former president Thabo Mbeki’s disastrous HIV-Aids policy, which has been blamed for the deaths of thousands of infected people, according to a report in The Times. "We owe it to the nation. We, as MPs, were there and we failed to rise up," said an ANC MP. The Times has established that there are behind-the-scenes discussions within the ANC alliance about the need for MPs who served during Mbeki’s tenure to apologise to South Africans for failing to publicly question his denialist views on HIV-Aids.

Insiders said the proposed move enjoys support from within the ANC, the South African Communist Party and Cosatu. The proposal would see an ANC parliamentary ad-hoc committee, composed of ANC MPs, drawing up the apology to the nation. Parliament’s deputy speaker, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, has also called for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission into the role of government in relation to the pandemic.

Madlala-Routledge served as deputy to former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang for three years, before she was fired by Mbeki in 2007. She championed HIV-Aids issues and received widespread support for disagreeing with her boss’s controversial views on the pandemic. She also undertook a public Aids test in 2006, a move that irritated her former bosses. Last year, the Harvard School of Public Health released a damning report that revealed that more than 330000 lives were lost because of Mbeki’s and Tshabalala-Msimang’s failure to provide antiretroviral drugs between 2000 and 2005.

The report placed the blame on Mbeki’s government for failing to implement a feasible and timely antiretroviral treatment programme. Madlala-Routledge said South Africa could benefit from a TRC process on HIV-Aids. "Will a greater understanding of this period of Aids denialism not help prevent something like this happening again?" she asked at the launch of a book on the subject on Wednesday night.

The launch of the book on Aids denialism, titled The Virus, Vitamins and Vegetables, was held in Durban to celebrate the end of the denialism era. Attempts to reach Mukoni Ratshitanga, Mbeki’s spokesman, were unsuccessful. Health Minister Barbara Hogan’s spokesman, Fidel Hadebe, said he was not in a position to say whether the minister would support such a move, as she was on a plane back from China at the time the inquiry was made.

Professor Salim Abdool-Karim, director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine in Durban, supported the call for an HIV-Aids truth commission: "This would be trying to reconcile what happened so we can put it in the past and not keep raising it."

He said he did not see an HIV-Aids truth commission as merely a means of granting amnesty, but rather as exposing what went wrong with the government’s response to the pandemic through the testimony of people who were centrally involved. Abdool-Karim was one of only four orthodox HIV scientists among dissidents on Mbeki’s first HIV-Aids panel in 1999, which was later expanded to include more scientists from South Africa

March 23, 2011- African Activist

In Depth: Statements by African Group and South Africa on the UN Joint Statement on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

After Colombia delivered the UN Joint Statement on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to the Human Rights Council there were interventions from the African Group and South Africa. They are transcribed in full below along with the resolution tabled by South Africa to establish an intergovernmental working group on sexual orientation and gender identity.

While the African Group opposed the Joint Statement, it did state, "We do not want any discrimination against anybody under any condition whether sexual or otherwise…If the issue is a question of discrimination, that is addressed on the law. If any law criminalises sexual orientation, and otherwise, those laws should be expunged."

South Africa endorsed the Joint Statement and introduced a resolution to "establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group to elaborate new concepts, like sexual orientation, and others which may emerge in this regard, defining such concepts and their scope and parameters in international human rights law prior to their integration into existing norms and standards of international human rights law."

Nigeria (African Group)
Mr. Ositadinma Anaedu | Watch Statement (Real Player)


March 25, 2011 – African Activist

South Africa’s Double Speak at the United Nations

There is growing concern among human rights organisations with the resolution tabled by South Africa at the United Nations to establish an intergovernmental process to discuss sexual orientation and gender identity. Jessica Stern at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) believes "South Africa is primarily collaborating with governments that refuse to acknowledge discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."

Jessica Stern, director of programmes at the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, confirmed this week that South African activists had been trying to initiate a dialogue with the government on the joint statement. "Many of us from around the world think that South Africa has put regional political interests before human rights and is trying to appease other African countries," Stern said. "There is an overwhelming sentiment within the African group at the UN that is opposed to recognising human rights violations based on sexual orientation. South Africa is primarily collaborating with governments that refuse to acknowledge discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."

Stern said that while South Africa is suggesting a single entity to deal with issues of sexual orientation, "no one knows what that entity is. It is suggesting one space that is purely intergovernmental, with no access for civil society, and that would undo decades of work." She said that while the joint statement which South Africa has endorsed is non-binding and has no immediate implications, the resolution will have binding implications, for example, for the allocation of resources.

Is Sexual Orientation Really Undefined?
In both the statement to the Human Rights Council and in the resolution to establish an intergovernmental working group, South Africa stated that the issue of sexual orientation needs to be clearly defined.


March 29, 2011 – Health24

Gay and HIV not a punishment from God

A reader tells his story about being an HIV-positive gay man in Bulawayo and Soweto, and his battle against discrimination. In 1998, Adam (not his real name) attended his first safer sex workshop in Bulawayo. Many of these kinds of workshops, where people get to know how to use condoms, are readily available to men who have sex with men (MSM) in Zimbabwe.

Two years later, an ex-partner accused Adam of infecting him with HIV. He went to Adam’s employers and told them that he had infected him with HIV. Adam was forced to go for an HIV test by his employers which came back showing that he was HIV positive. Adam remembers: “I felt kind of betrayed that my employers were falling for the blackmail. I had broken up with this person – and so he said I infected him with HIV because he wanted me to give him money and food, because I had a job. He wanted support from me.”

Today Adam (38), living in Soweto, considers himself as a self-identified black gay man and explains: “I always believed that when a person is born they are born for a reason, and they are born with different sexual orientations. There are straight people and there are gay people. Especially amongst the gay population in the black community people will say it is a foreign thing to be gay. They will say it is a white man’s disease, and as our Zimbabwean President will say, they are ‘worse than pigs and dogs’. But I believe each person has to follow their own feelings and sexual orientation, because in most cases people have opted for suicide because of the stress, when they can’t live two lives at the same time. I have adopted – accepted – that I am gay. I have told my family that I am gay and that I will never marry. And they are OK with it.”

Not always ‘gay’
But Adam was not always “gay”. When he was younger he had quite a number of girlfriends, dating mostly girls he met at church – all at the same time. “At school people would call me ‘moffie’ and ‘stabane’ and ‘homosexual’ and stuff like that, maybe because of the way that I presented myself, and the way that I spoke at such a tender age. However, I decided to embrace my sexuality and I became gay. And I even revealed that I’m gay to my last girlfriend – and she was OK with it.”

When he first tested positive for HIV in Zimbabwe, Adam received excellent health care, and his employers had a scheme whereby all the HIV-positive staff could access HIV treatment.

Many gays and lesbians face discrimination from doctors and nurses when undergoing voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) for HIV. In Adam’s case the nurses at the clinic in Harare asked many questions and they understood that he was a gay man. He adds: “they did not discriminate against me because I was gay and they did not stigmatise me in any way, they were quite good. They really were quite friendly to me, referring me to a particular doctor at a particular clinic who had friends who brought medication from overseas to help men in my situation. The doctor helped quite a number of people in our community to access treatment, and most of them survived during this time in the township. They also did three types of testing – I don’t remember all the types of testing – and the results all came back positive.”

After moving to Johannesburg, Adam was getting three months’ supply of ARV medication sent from home by his family. “The medicine was sponsored by an organisation in the United States, and then going to my personal GP who gave it to my parents to send over to me in South Africa.” Adam now has access to a clinic where he can get his ARV medicine, as well as regularly checking his CD4 count and viral load, free of charge. He proudly adds: “I am 100% adherent and in perfect health!”

High HIV prevalence
Adam is well aware that the HIV prevalence amongst men who have sex with men in Soweto is very high – estimated by some expert researchers to be in the region of 30 to 50%. Despite a desperate lack of awareness and support amongst black gay men, especially for those living with HIV, he was able to access a support group for gay and lesbian people through his church.

HIV remains a thorny topic amongst black gay men in Gauteng townships for a variety of reasons, and he adds: “Sometimes they do talk about it – in one-on-one discussions. But basically in the course of a meeting they don’t talk about it because of the stigma – some people still have the stigma attached to HIV. But I am open about my HIV status – even to the group. And in the group we discuss quite a number of issues that pertain to Christianity and being gay. We also talk about being HIV positive, being a Christian and being gay. And there is good support from the group and priests themselves. I think the church is doing a good job having this particular group.”

Some black gay men don’t self-identify as “homosexual”, but they do have sex with other men that includes high risk-taking behaviours and unsafe sexual practices.

Adam explains: “I think it is because – in the townships – they have stereotypes. They have this kind of saying that ‘I am a man so I should be married’. Most of the men will do that: say they are not gay and sleep with other men. And they are married to women and are living two lives. They do not want to identify themselves as bisexual or gay – they just want to identify themselves as men who sleep with men (MSM). Not exactly gay or bisexual. This is because of the stigma attached to the words bisexual and gay. Because some people think that gay is un-African and that it is not an African practice.”

Black gay men face many challenges – especially when they are a Christian – based on the things that are said in the Bible about homosexuality. Due to the oppressive laws in various African countries where homosexuality is punishable with the death penalty, labour camps, imprisonment and other harsh punishments, many of these men go underground to express their true sexuality.

Read artcle

27 April 2011 – PinkNews

Lesbian raped and murdered in South African township

by Christopher Brocklebank
Noxolo Nogwaza, a 24-year-old lesbian, was found dead in an alley in Kwa-Thema township, South Africa, on Easter Sunday morning. It is believed she was raped and murdered.
Ms Nogwaza was a member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC), the key LGBTI organisation in Kwa-Thema. The committee, along with the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) said that Ms Nogwaza’s face was so badly beaten that she was unrecognisable. Her body had been stabbed all over with glass shards and an empty bottle and used condom were also reportedly found in her genitals.

Victor Mukasa, project coordinator of the Human Rights Defenders Project at CALI, said: “I am so disturbed by this horrific action. It is the responsibility of the South African Government to protect all its citizens. Hate crimes against LGBT people in this country are on the rise and the government should come out openly against these actions. “Protection of individuals who are vulnerable because of their sexual orientation and or gender identity is something provided for in the Constitution of South Africa and should be put in practice. As a regional advocacy organisation, CAL will work with EPOC and others to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.”

In 2008, Eudy Simelane’s body was also found in an open field in Kwa-Thema – she too had been raped and murdered. Last year, a gay man in the same township was attacked by eight men, who allegedly attempted to rape him. Ntsupe, Chairperson of EPOC said: “It is very clear that these rapists are on a mission. We will not rest until justice prevails. Eudy’s case was not recognized as a hate crime against a lesbian and the same is not done in the cases of many other people who have been raped and/or murdered on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in South Africa.

“EPOC is determined to get to the bottom of the Noxola case and push for justice. It was definitely a hate crime.” The murder of Ms Nogwaza has been reported to Tsakane Police. She will be buried on Saturday.

April 2011 – Behind The Mask

Symposium To Unravel HIV Issues Amongst MSM

On 23 to 25 May this year, the Anova Health Institute together with PEPFAR will hold a regional symposium aiming to consolidate and review current trends and research related to HIV prevention, treatment and care among men who have sex with other men (MSM) in South Africa to be held at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town. Glenn de Swardt, Programme Manager for Anova Health Institute, said the symposium will serve as a valuable platform for exchange of information and ideas in terms of increasing knowledge and insight into MSM and HIV, and will help stimulate more research and commitment to more services for MSM, through plenary sessions and presentations, workshops and poster displays, prepared for the symposium.”

“There is an ever-increasing awareness of MSM being both at increased risk of HIV infections, as well as being marginalised and often ignored by the mainstream health care system. Significant research is being undertaken among diverse MSM groupings and it is important that this data is shared and discussed with peers in order to broaden our scope on the issues at play and the services that are required”, de Swardt revealed.

The symposium will feature plenary sessions on prevention among MSM, diverse aspects of treatment and care, presentations and a series of skills building workshops. “In addition to sharing information and research, we are hopeful that the symposium will renew participants’ commitment to the on-going challenges we face. The symposium will also feature an international expert on HIV among transgender people, which we hope will focus attention on the health care needs of this very marginalised community”, de Swardt added.

De Swardt revealed that little is being done to respond to the escalating HIV prevalence amongst MSM’s. “MSM are generally excluded from traditional heterosexist safer sex messaging, and prejudice against such men remains institutionalised within some sectors of the public health system. For example, many organisations distribute free condoms to men but forget that people who engage in anal intercourse require water-based lubrication; countless men are using products such as petroleum jelly, body lotions or margarine as lubricants, all of which contribute to condom failure because of their oil content”, said de Swardt.

An online survey conducted by the OUT LGBT Well-being in 2007 suggested that a minimum of 5 % of men in South Africa have sex with other men. “There is no doubt at all that any element of prejudice impacts on health care, in that it negates people’s access to services. In countries where same sex practices are criminalised, MSM are completely stigmatised and often too fearful to approach a community clinic. Often, when such men do access a health service, they cannot be honest about their health care needs or sexual risk profile, and therefor do not receive relevant care or information”, de Swardt said.

The Anova Health Institute works to improve access to public healthcare in South Africa, with particular focus on HIV and AIDS. This includes strengthening and improving the capacity of existing systems and training staff. The first public sector clinic Health4Men dedicated to MSM sexual health in Africa was established in Cape Town as a project of the Anova Health Institute in partnership with the Department of Health. A second clinic was subsequently launched in Soweto. Health4Men also provides medical services in Pretoria through OUT LGBT Wellbeing.

“The role of government is to firstly, acknowledge the need for more attention to MSM and HIV, and secondly to support organisations that have developed the necessary expertise in this field. Everyone has recognised the fact that government alone cannot curb the HIV pandemic in our country, and that civil society and NGOs play a vital role. Indeed, Health4Men was initiated through a partnership between a community organisation, the Department of Health and our donor, USAID/PEPFAR. Fortunately, MSM do feature in South Africa’s National Strategic Plan for HIV, 2007 – 2011, and there is renewed interest in making public sector clinics more accessible to MSM, especially in the Western Cape, Gauteng and North-West Province”, de Swardt said.

To participate in the symposium and for further information contact Heather Humphreys on 011 715 5805/email

2011 April 8 – PubMed

Levels and Correlates of Internalized Homophobia Among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Pretoria, South Africa.

by Vu L, Tun W, Sheehy M, Nel D. – HIV and AIDS Program, Population Council, 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 280, Washington, DC, 20008, USA,

This study examines levels and correlates of internalized homophobia among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Pretoria, South Africa. Using respondent-driven sampling, we recruited 324 MSM from February to August 2009. Results were adjusted using RDSAT analysis to yield population-based estimates. High levels of internalized homophobia exist among South African MSM: 10-15% reported "often/very often" and over 20% reported "sometimes" having feelings of internalized homophobia. A greater level of internalized homophobia was significantly associated with a lower level of education [Adjusted Odds Ratio = 2.2; 95% CI = 1.1-4.9], a higher level of HIV misinformation [AOR = 2.7; 95% CI: 1.3-5.3], bisexual identity (vs. homosexual) [AOR = 5.5; 95% CI: 2.5-12.0], and HIV-related conspiracy beliefs [AOR = 2.4; 95% CI: 1.02-5.8]. These findings contribute valuable information to our understanding of internalized homophobia in South Africa, highlighting the need to empower the gay community, promote self-acceptance of homosexual identity, and address conspiracy beliefs among MSM to reduce internalized homophobia and increase access to HIV prevention interventions.

13 April, 2011 – MSM Global Forum

Soweto Clinic Reaches Out To MSM

by Yngve Sjolund
The Health4Men clinic is putting up a determined effort in the fight against high HIV and STI infection rates amongst men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) in and around Soweto.

Thanks to support from PEPFAR and USAID, the Simon Nkoli Centre for Men’s Health can offer free and confidential clinic services, which include men’s health care check-ups, STI and HIV screening and medical treatment and prevention care. Innovative outreach projects, counselling for individuals and same-sex couples, a range of support groups – including groups for men living with HIV – as well as regular seminars and talks addressing topical issues related to men’s sexual and psychosocial health are also available for MSM.

MSM living in the township are aware that various studies have documented the very high HIV prevalence amongst MSM Sowetans in the past two years.
David Motswagae an outreach worker at the clinic, confirms: “Yes, they know – and it was great to see that most of them knew about the findings of the study, even if they found out from gay media on the web. Participants raised the issue during discussion groups, and most of them said: ‘why are you saying one in three of us are HIV positive? Why is it that other people are still in the closet – and we don’t know their status?”

Same-sex relationships remain difficult terrain for media and health communication in South Africa, and a lack of coverage of MSM issues in the media fuels the marginalization of MSM and their HIV prevention needs. At most, the media tends to reinforce stereotypes that all MSM are gay – or that they have the same HIV prevention needs as gay men. Typecasting all MSM – who do not usually self-identify as being gay – may also alienate this vulnerable group, and deter them from accessing targeted HIV services for fear of being labelled “gay”.

Infection rates have risen steadily in recent years among MSM, despite a decrease in the 1990’s – and according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), MSM account for 71% of all HIV infections in the U.S.A., where statistics also showed a 30 percent rise in syphilis outbreaks in 2009.
But the numbers for MSM in the USA are not much different from those in South Africa, and the results of three studies conducted in Johannesburg and Durban found that HIV prevalence rates among MSM were as high as about 38 percent – or double that found among South Africa’s general population.

While conducting informal talks and supports groups in Soweto, community participants cited alcohol and multiple concurrent partners (MCP) as the most important drivers of the high HIV statistics. “The feedback we got from the community is that most gay people and MSM are somewhat desperate. You find yourself in a community of Africans, whereby you are not accepted. Now you find, here is a guy who is still in the closet – we call them ‘after nine’s’. So this person is in the ‘closet’ and that means the only relationship that you can have with this man is during the night, in secret. So this man will be engaging in ‘quickies’ – and that means that there are chances that he may not have a condom or lube with him. So the chances are very high that he and you are getting exposed to HIV and other STIs”.

Government reports also estimate that about 6 percent of lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) and MSM surveyed have reported being turned away from government clinics, while the national strategic plan (NSP) specifies that at least 70 percent of MSM should have been reached with a comprehensive, customized HIV prevention package by 2011. Meeting this target is unlikely: a recent government review of NSP progress indicates that nobody is collecting data on HIV prevention among MSM and that there are no national initiatives aimed at preventing HIV transmission in MSM. It is also natural that, when dealing with potentially embarrassing medical issues, most MSM would rather receive care in an environment where people understand them.

‘Before we came up with the concept Health4Men, we did informal group discussions, which are where most of the information around this problem was identified, and why Health4Men was started. Clients would come to us in confidence and tell us that ‘you know what, when we go to public clinics, it seems that we are misunderstood. These people don’t understand us. When I go there, and say I have got an STI, this nurse will look at my penis and you will find that the STI is in the anus …’ At the end of the day the nurse will ask ‘why now is the STI in the anus, why not on the penis – what are you doing?’ You know they will come up with very insulting words that makes the client feel embarrassed and bad about themselves.’ When gay men or MSM go to clinics, the nurses laugh at them because they cannot grasp the concept of same-sex sexuality and that some people are different sexually – they just don’t understand the lifestyle that gay or homosexual preferences are different. Nurses are even too scared to talk about sex.”

Full text of article availabe here

May 2011 –

South Africa : Lack of bisexual, transgender and intersex people causes an imbalance in representation

South Africa – It has come to my attention that many LGBTI organisations in South Africa do not really have programmes or projects that focus on bisexual, transgender and intersex (BTI) people despite large numbers of the existence of this group in different provinces with limited access to information about their gender identity and sexual orientation. Director of the Pietermaritzburg Gay and Lesbian Network in KwaZulu-Natal, Anthony Waldehausen admitted that that there is lack of bisexual, transgender and intersex programming among LGBTI organisations.

Waldehausen indicated that his organisation does not have any programmes directed specifically at BTI people. However, they are aware of transgender and intersex people’s needs, but bisexual people remain a neglected groups.He mentioned that their focus was on the gay and lesbian community as this group forms the majority of their organisation’s constituency. He added that they are open to being inclusive of BTI people’s needs in their work but acknowledged that they would first need to identify individuals who will represent these groups. Waldehausen also highlighted that they do have one transgender person who serves on their Executive Committee.

On the contrary, Trish Dzingirayi, social worker for OUT LGBT Well-Being in Pretoria said her organisation offers mental health services to BTI people in the form of support groups, she highlighted however that the challenge lies where BTI people are reluctant to come to the groups. According to Dzingirayi the support groups are a result of the expressed needs of BTI people to have a safe space, where people feel a sense of belonging and networking amongst fellow BTI’s “To ensure appropriate programming for BTI people in South Africa, proper research, consultation, programme initiators and drivers should come from the TBI cohort”, said Dzingirayi.

Meanwhile, Waldehauson said he will be doing a strategic planning session soon and will be looking at strategies of including BTI people in their programmes. LGBTI organisations must endeavor to include BTI people in their work as the lack of programming would mean the exclusion of this group in services such as health care and access to information. A transman from Gauteng who did not want to be named said, the major challenge faced by transgender people in his province is having to contact people that are in a different province every time when they are in need of assistance and services. He also expressed that it is impersonal to speak to an organisation on the phone or via email due to distance especially about sensitive matters that concern transgendered people. He said transgendered people in his province need more medical services.

Robert Hamblin, Advocacy Manager and Deputy Director of Gender DynamiX, the only trans organisation in South Africa said, “It is difficult to service transgendered people throughout South Africa because many of transgendered people are not visible and do not have the terminology to identify their gender identity.” Hamblin also pointed out that BTI people should be employed within LGBTI organisations so that they can design their own programmes because LG people cannot talk for them.

Taking into account the admission by individuals heading LGBTI organisations and their willingness to strategise and be inclusive of BTI groups, I feel this is a positive step in the right direction which will bring about change and balance in sexual orientation and gender identity representation. It is also vital that BTI groups get involved in LGBTI organisations to better raise issues affecting them and be visible in order to be part of the programmes concerning them, should such programmes be implemented by LGBTI organisations. This will also help to foster understanding between all the groups concerned.

June 6, 2011 – Human Rights First

U.N. Expert Highlights Xenophobia in South Africa, Calls for Hate Crime Legislation

by Paul LeGendre – Director, Fighting Discrimination Program
International human rights bodies have periodically evaluated the response of the South African government to xenophobic and other forms of bias-motivated violence. Since waves of attacks on foreigners swept the country in 2008, the government continues to struggle to address this type of violence. Although on a lesser scale, attacks against foreigners and threats of violence have been a regular part of the lives of many refugees, migrants, and other foreigners living in South Africa.
On May 31, the U.N. Human Rights Council discussed the work of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, Jorge Bustamante. Speaking generally, Bustamente reported that “migrants were often subject to xenophobic outbreaks of abuse and violence.” Indeed, xenophobic violence is a global problem that has been extensively documented in many countries, including in South Africa, a country Mr. Bustamante visited earlier this year.

In a special country report released on that visit and made available to the U.N. delegates, the Special Rapporteur recognized that the government had taken some steps to address the xenophobic attacks against migrants. In 2008, during the worst outbreak of violence in recent years, foreign nationals were targeted and attacked in over 130 locations in various parts of South Africa. More than sixty people were killed, hundreds injured, and over 100,000 displaced. Last year, as the world’s attention was captivated by the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, migrants and refugees feared of venturing out because of reported threats of new clashes. These threats weren’t unfounded: after the Cup, in spite of considerable efforts by the government to prevent any outbreaks of violence, four foreigners were murdered in Johannesburg.

In this regard, the Special Rapporteur’s report on his mission to South Africa made important recommendations, many of which have been previously advanced by the South African Human Rights Commission, as well as by domestic and international civil society groups—the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa, the African Centre for Migration and Society, Lawyers for Human Rights, and Human Rights First. The Special Rapporteur called on the authorities to: “make any act of violence against individuals or property on the basis of a person’s race, nationality, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity (‘hate crime’) an aggravating circumstance”;

“provide effective resources and training for police, justice and other relevant officials to ensure the successful implementation of the provisions of the law, including training on detecting, recording and prosecuting hate crimes, as well as monitoring any trends in them”; and establish “a permanent body in the office of the Presidency to ensure effective coordination of different government department programs on social cohesion, addressing xenophobia, police profiling and tackling hate crimes.”

These recommendations of the Special Rapporteur echo a similar set of recommendations included in a comprehensive report of the South African Human Rights Commission, an independent national commission, that last year released the results of an investigation of the 2008 episodes of xenophobic violence. The Commission highlighted significant levels of impunity for the perpetrators of violence and pointed to weaknesses in intergovernmental coordination and institutional processes that hindered the response to the 2008 crisis. The Commission also prescribed the Department of Justice to develop hate crime legislation, and the police to review and enhance its collaboration with communities vulnerable to hate violence.

These recommendations are in line with international commitments and norms adopted by the Government of South Africa. Human Rights First has been calling on countries across the globe to fulfill their promises of combating bias-motivated violence. Our Ten-Point Plan outlines what governments should do to combat hate crimes—including xenophobic violence and that affects refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. These initiatives to improve state responses to attacks against migrants, refugees, and minorities in South Africa come at a fitting time. This year marks the 60th Anniversary of the Refugee Convention of 1951, and UNHCR is asking governments to use this opportunity to “pledge” to take steps to improve protections for refugees. UNHCR has also identified xenophobic violence as a “protection issue,” outlining a strategic approach on “Combating Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance” in December 2009.

This year presents an opportunity for the South African government to engage in the pledging process and take action on these commitments as one means of responding to calls for greater action from the country’s vibrant civil society, its national human rights institution, and now from the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants.

June 6, 2011 – The Los Angeles Times

Gay rights are human rights
– Recent violence against gay people in South Africa is a reminder that the struggle for gay rights is a global one.

When it comes to gay rights, South Africa is something of a paradox. Legally progressive, the country allows gay marriage and, in its Constitution, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Gay groups flourish — soccer clubs and church organizations included — and middle-class gay men and women live relatively openly. But in some parts of the country, particularly in rural areas and townships, the progressive laws collide with deeply traditional views of homosexuality as un-African and as an import from the decadent West.

In the South African township of Kwa-Thema, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, a young lesbian woman who dressed like a man and played soccer as well as one was found dead in an alley on Easter morning, having been stabbed with broken glass, battered with bricks and apparently raped with a broken bottle. Two other openly gay women have been murdered in the township since 2008, and some gay men and women report having been raped by attackers who claimed to be teaching them a lesson. The violence in South Africa is a reminder that the struggle for gay rights is a global one. A gay rights demonstration in Moscow was disrupted last month by counter-protesters, and Russian security forces detained people from both sides of the protest. In Jamaica, homophobic lyrics in dancehall music have been blamed for violent attacks on gay people.

On the other hand, some countries have progressed further faster. A decade ago, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage. Since then, nine more have followed — and the U.S. was not one of them. In addition to South Africa, they are Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. So has Mexico City, a handful of U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The European Union has adopted statutes banning discrimination against gays. The Brazilian Supreme Court recently ruled that same-sex couples are legally entitled to civil unions.

But as in South Africa, paradoxes exist. Although the United States has made much progress on gay rights, Human Rights Watch last month picked American pastor Scott Lively, an outspoken critic of homosexuality, for its homophobia "Hall of Shame," along with the Ugandan legislator who authored a bill that would impose the death penalty for some homosexual acts. (The bill has been temporarily tabled.) While the progress is encouraging, the brutal violence in South Africa is a reminder of how much still needs to be done worldwide to show not just governments but communities that equal protection for gay people is not a Western convention, not a modern fashion, but a human right.

June 14 2011 – The Star

No place for homophobia here

by Navi Pillay
South Africa has given the world some powerful ideas – foremost among them the concept of the rainbow nation, where diversity is a source of strength and everyone is entitled to equal rights and respect.
It is especially saddening that the country reborn under Nelson Mandela’s watchful eye should now be the setting for a far more sinister phenomenon that undermines everything the rainbow nation stands for: so-called corrective rape. The disturbing term “corrective rape” describes the rape of lesbians or women perceived to be lesbian by men who claim to be trying to “correct” their victims’ sexuality. In the worst cases, such attacks have been fatal.

Rape and comparable sexual violence against anyone is a serious crime that must never be condoned nor tolerated. This kind of rape is part of a wider pattern of sexual violence that tragically affects women across South Africa and elsewhere. It combines discrimination and a fundamental lack of respect for women with deeply entrenched homophobia, in spite of some of the most progressive laws and constitutional protections in the world. In the latest reported attack, on May 4, a 13-year-old girl was raped in Atteridgeville near Pretoria. During the assault, her attacker reportedly boasted that he would “cure” her of lesbianism.

In late April, the disfigured body of lesbian activist Noxolo Nogwaza was found in an alley in KwaThema near Joburg. She had been raped and killed, apparently after an argument with some men who had tried to proposition her girlfriend. Nogwaza’s murder took place in the same township in which Eudy Simelane was gang-raped and stabbed to death in 2008. Simelane was a lesbian and a star player for the national women’s football team, Banyana Banyana. Charges of rape and murder were eventually laid against four men, two of whom were convicted. Sadly, such convictions are the exception: very few other cases of so-called corrective rape have even made it to court. Reliable statistics on “corrective” rape are hard to come by.

In the absence of a more systematic approach to monitoring, recording and investigating such crimes, it is impossible to know the true extent of the problem, let alone hold perpetrators to account. Many cases go unreported and those that are may not be properly identified as homophobic-hate crimes. The government recently acknowledged the seriousness of the situation. Following the most recent attack in Atteridgeville, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development promised a swift and thorough investigation and correctly referred to gay and lesbian rights as human and constitutional rights. The same department also recently established a task team on hate crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people. The task team, which meets for the first time later this month, will gather information, propose possible responses and facilitate public awareness activities and training of police and court officials.

These are all steps in the right direction. The contribution of community-based organisations, including groups representing victims, will be critical in identifying how the authorities can better discharge their responsibility to protect people from this kind of targeted, hate-driven violence. While ‘‘corrective’’ rape has become associated with South Africa, where most documented cases have taken place, the problem is not restricted to any one country. Cases of corrective rape have recently been reported in Uganda, Zimbabwe and Jamaica, and, more generally, violence against individuals perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is a reality in all parts of the world, with some particularly horrific incidents reported recently in the US, the UK, Honduras and Brazil.

I understand that, in some countries, homosexuality is something that runs against the grain of majority sexual mores. But healthy societies cannot approve of violence inflicted on other human beings for any reason. As High Commissioner, I must stay true to universal standards of human rights and human dignity, which are overriding. Let there be no confusion: in speaking up for the rights of those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex, we are not calling for the recognition of new rights or trying to extend human rights into new territory. We are simply reinforcing what the UN human rights treaty bodies and human rights rapporteurs have confirmed repeatedly: existing international law protects everyone from violence and discrimination, including on grounds of their sexuality or gender identity.

States are responsible for ensuring that everyone can enjoy the same rights – no matter who they are, where they come from, what they look like, or whom they love. South Africans should need no convincing of this. It was, after all, the idea on which this country was renewed and which is today embedded in the constitution. South Africa’s challenge is to be true to its ideals and to make real the promise of the post-apartheid era: a rainbow nation where we are all free and equal and can live comfortably with those who are different. It is a challenge the rest of the world would do well to take up.

l Navi Pillay is the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

June 14th, 2011- Behind The Mask

Second Trans Organisation In South Africa

by Betesta Segale
The lives of Pretoria’s transgender people are set to change for the better with the arrival of a new non-profit organisation, Transgender and Intersex Africa (TIA). This transgender and intersex oriented organisation was founded by Tebogo Nkoana, a black post op transgender activist, early last year.
The group is currently in the process of being registered by the authorities.

Tebogo Nkoana said the reason for starting a trans organisation in Pretoria was, “Transgender and Intersex issues have been very taboo in the black community, especially black townships and rural areas.” He added that there is a huge gap within the transgender and intersex movement in South Africa and that one of the identified challenges was language and culture differences. “We as TIA strongly felt that we need an organisation that will be serving for black trans and intersex community in particular, because we realised that the language and applicable terminologies are not easily translated in our mother tongue hence many of transgender and intersex individuals could not express themselves at a comfortable level. Pretoria was chosen as a central area that most provinces can reach easily,” he said.

He commented that after registration, the organisation will address issues of interest to the trans community and “help TIA to reach our goal of raising awareness and enhancing the trans and intersex movement in South Africa. “TIA’s formation has been hope of many transgender and intersex individuals, especially those of Gauteng Province. Ever since we received our first funding, our office became home of hope.” He said TIA “is a dream comes true. My passion is around black transgender issues and empowering intersex people to drive their own agenda.”

TIA focuses primarily on trans and intersex issues as a whole. Nkoana explained, “Our relationship with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual (LGB) organisations is to voice or highlight trans and intersex issues within their space so that we can have a balanced movement.” He said that TIA’s way forward, they will make show that trans and intersex issues are on the agenda and represented by them as the organisation. Most importantly we are going to educate black community about the reality of being trans and intersex people. TIA was initiated by black transgender individuals to focus on black transgender and intersex issues in South Africa. Its aim is to break the silence and stop ignorance about the existence of the black Transgender and Intersex community in South Africa especially in the rural areas and black townships.

Its mission is breaking the eyes of African people around the reality and diversity of gender. To be registered under South African law, TIA should have to have board members and constitution which will describe the structure of the organisation.

15 Jun, 2011 – Source Unknown

Project to Help Sexual Refugees

by Timna Axel
South Africa is one of the few countries in the world that grants asylum status to people who have been persecuted on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Once a refugee permit is obtained, a person can legally live in South Africa for two years at a time with nearly all the rights of a citizen. Yet sexual refugees who make their way to Cape Town often face hostility from their immigrant communities, which shut them from crucial means of support.

View original PDF article here

20 June 2011 – IRIN PlusNews

Africa: New light shed on male sex work

Johannesburg,(PlusNews) – Commercial sex work, dominated by a focus on women, could be redefined as new research launched today in Nairobi, Kenya, sheds light on the complicated HIV prevention needs of what may be Africa’s most deeply underground group at high risk of HIV – male sex workers. The report co-authored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and South Africa’s Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) seeks to better understand the social contexts, sexual practices and risks, including that of HIV, among these men. The professional debut of many of the 70 male sex workers surveyed in Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe was often prompted by the family rejecting the men’s sexual orientation; for others, it was a way to survive in a foreign country.

Men reported being at risk of HIV in many ways, including the unavailability of speciality health services, the premium clients placed on unprotected sex, violence and the lure of substance abuse. Although the work often placed them at risk of substance and physical abuse as well as HIV infection, the researchers found that it also provided the men with a sense of freedom and empowerment. The report cautions that mitigating these risks may require specialised HIV prevention services unlike those targeted at female commercial sex workers or men who have sex with men (MSM).

A series of interviews with male sex workers at a five-country workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, and country visits to Kenya and Namibia has produced a significant addition to the paucity of data on male sex workers, according to Paul Boyce, a UNDP researcher. While data on MSM from Malawi, Namibia and Botswana indicated that about 17 percent were HIV positive – almost twice the national prevalence rates of their respective countries – not much has been written on the specific HIV risks of male sex workers, which may be higher than those of MSM.

While male sex workers reported working at a range of venues, including Namibian truck stops and Zimbabwean mines, most of the available information on male sex work has come from those operating in the sex tourism hot spot of Mombasa, Kenya, with limited data from a 2009 study in South Africa that showed male sex workers were twice as likely to engage in anal sex than MSM who were not selling sex.

Not necessarily the same old risks
Unprotected receptive anal sex carries almost 20 times the HIV risk associated with unprotected vaginal sex. Interviewees told researchers that the unavailability of water-based lubricant, which reduces the risk of condoms breaking during anal sex, and the higher financial reward of unprotected anal sex, made consistent condom use difficult.
Some clients forced unprotected intercourse on sex workers, while others admitted to practicing unsafe sex due to the disinhibition often brought about by the drug and alcohol abuse that is reportedly part of the social scene in sex work. Drugs and alcohol also helped the men mentally cope with the omnipresent risks of this lifestyle, including police harassment.

South African male sex workers said substance abuse – not HIV infection – was the greatest threat to their health. Those who tried to access health services for HIV testing and treatment, or the diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), reported being ridiculed and stigmatized by health workers, even in countries like Kenya, where the Ministry of Health has introduced new guidelines on MSM and sex work, and health and HIV.

Read article

June 27, 2011 – MSMGF Blog

Report on the Top2Btm MSM Symposium (Cape Town, South Africa)

by Dr Kevin Rebe
I was born and educated in Johannesburg, South Africa before moving to Cape Town to attend medical school at the University of Cape Town. I specialized in internal medicine and then sub-specialized in Infectious Diseases. I obtained diplomas in Tropical medicine and hygiene (University of the Witwatersrand) and HIV management (College of Medicine South Africa). My interests over the past few years included clinical management of HIV positive people in resource-constrained settings, with an emphasis on treatment of HIV, TB, cryptotoccal meningitis and other opportunistic infections. I have worked for ANOVA Health Institute for the past three years which has allowed me to pursue my interests in working with STI and HIV prevention and treatment among high risk groups, especially MSM, male drug users and sex workers. I am medical director of the Ivan Toms Centre for Men’s Health, the first government sanctioned clinic providing targeted prevention and treatment services to MSM in South Africa.

The Top2Btm symposium on prevention, treatment and care of men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) was recently convened in Cape Town by the Anova Health Institute with funding and support from USAID and PEPFAR. The conference attracted speakers and delegates from African and developed nations and included local MSM community representatives, a variety of NGOs, government leaders and health care workers as well as prominent MSM researchers. It is extremely encouraging that this conference took place in South Africa, a notion that would have been unthinkable as recently as five years previously. South Africa is well placed to play a leadership role in evolving our understanding of African MSM and to promote effective health care for this "most-at-risk-population" (MARP). Infrastructure and skills exist here that can facilitate clinical and other research which will refine prevention and treatment interventions for African MSM.

Dr Yogan Pillay, South Africa’s Deputy Director General of Strategic Planning in the Department of Health, opened the conference. He affirmed the government’s commitment to implementing targeted HIV and STI prevention and treatment programs for MARPs, including MSM. He highlighted the importance of MSM-targeted HIV testing programs, considering PrEP, promoting PEP, encouraging MSM-related research and embracing the concept of antiretroviral treatment as prevention. Consideration is being given to providing state-funded ART to everyone at a CD4 count of 350 or less; MSM would benefit individually and collectively should this materialise. The importance of a human rights agenda was stressed with a quotation from UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, “Not only is it unethical not to protect these groups; it makes no sense from a health perspective, it hurts all of us.”

Read article

27 June 2011 – Mapping Pathways

On the Ground with Brian Kanyemba: A snapshot of advocacy in Africa

It’s one thing to read about HIV advocacy and prevention and another to experience it first-hand, on the ground, day to day. That’s how Brian Kanyemba experiences it. He is the research assistant at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, a Mapping Pathways partner organization. A core part of Brian’s job involves traveling through South Africa’s villages and cities, talking to people about issues surrounding men who have sex with men (MSM), and what the prevalence of HIV means within this group of people. Of late, his focus has been on putting forward the “meaningfulness of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)” within the South African context, especially for the MSM community. This is no easy task.

Let’s talk about sex
“South Africa is a really interesting and dynamic place,” says Brian. “We might have gay rights and rights access of services across all sexual orientations, but when you start to talk about MSM, or about PrEP as an intervention among MSM, this is faced by a huge mental wall.” This wall extends to talking about rectal microbocides as well, mostly due to the taboo against anal sex. Currently in development, rectal microbocides, or “topical PrEP”, are ARV-based products that might reduce the risk of HIV infection when used topically in the rectum during anal intercourse. These are in phase II, with an expected phase III to be carried out in Africa and possibly Cape Town (to learn more about rectal microbocides and PrEP click here and here). “No one will come forward to talk about this openly,” says Brian, “because in Africa, anal sex is associated with homosexuality, and homosexuality in Africa is not okay.”

One way Brian goes around this taboo is by using a simple game about sexual pleasure called “Mapping the Body”. While talking to people, he introduces the discussion on rectal microbicides by drawing three images on the board: a simple figure of a man, a woman, and another man. “I say, ‘Guys let’s put stars on areas where one can be sexually stimulated’,” says Brian. “You get amazing ideas from the group. And some people will say to put a star on the anal area, and then from there it is easier to link to PrEP and to introduce rectal microbocides.” By conducting a matter-of-fact discussion focused on pleasure and the body, Brian finds the group is much better able to accept the idea of rectal microbocides as a form of protection.

“Heck no… I am not interested.”
Despite his innovative methods, Brian has run into some pretty big walls where the topic of MSM and PrEP is concerned, especially within the healthcare sector and even the government. At a meeting with a parliament member who represents HIV issues, Brian recalls that when he brought up the topic of MSM and PrEP, she said, “’Oh no, can you please stop there because that doesn’t exist in my frame of mind.’” Says Brian, “This was a woman in the parliament whose job was to discuss issues of HIV. So, I’m talking to her about MSM being a group of people who have a high prevalence of HIV infection and she just says, ‘Heck no, we’re not going to talk about that topic now. I am not interested.’”

Brian clearly remembers his most unexpected encounter with homonegativity – it was at a focus-group PrEP presentation that he conducted in Durban, the third-largest city in South Africa. Recalls Brian, “I put the word MSM on the board, and do you know what one woman participant said? She said, ‘By MSM do you mean men who have sex with men? Yes, they must die; and if not, they must be killed!’” The woman participant who said this was on the community advisory board for one of the major HIV trials in South Africa, which made the statement all the more startling for Brian. “I was so taken aback. I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is where the advocacy has to start from.’”

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30 June 2011 – LGBT Asylum News

Audio: LGBT asylum seekers in South Africa

Source: Outspoken Radio
The South African refugee support group People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) announced a new programme 6 May "in light of the increasing number of ‘sexual refugees’." It will provide support and advocacy in partnership with LGBTI rights organisations. "The asylum application process is fraught with problems and many LGBTI people are turned away unjustly," they say. "Moreover, those who are granted status still often face discrimination and harassment in their new communities in South Africa. When xenophobia is compounded with homophobia, it leaves many gay and transgender people in conditions not unlike those in the countries they fled in the first place."

This interview is with a Ugandan gay refugee, Arafat, who is involved with the new programme. He says that the programme is already looking after asylum seekers from Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Congo, Zambia and Bangladesh.