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Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Why does the world need a fund to support LGBT people whose rights are under threat?

The following is a fictional account, but drawn from real-life testimony about an ongoing situation.
 You arrive at work like any other morning. The sun is shining and you’re positive about the day ahead, but something’s not right. There are police officers outside and the door to your office has been smashed in, papers with private details of people from the LGBTI community in your town are strewn across the ground.
At your desk sits the country’s Minister of Interior. He raises his gaze from the list of beneficiaries that your organisation works with and fixes his eyes on you.
“Report to my ministry within 24 hours,” he demands, “You need to prove to me that you have the right to work in this country. We want your registration documents, a list of the people you work for and who funds you.
“We have reason to believe that your organisation’s activities are unlawful in this country. If we are not satisfied with your answers, we will shut you down and imprison you.”[1]
What do you do? Do you need a lawyer? Do you need to leave town?

Physical attacks on the LGBT community – the need for a ‘safe house’ during an emergency.
Beyonce, 35, was attacked by a mob outside her home in October, 2015. For 12 months she had been receiving threats of violence after hosting a social gathering for transgender women at her home.
She said: “Most people were wondering who these ‘boys’ were and people started spreading rumours that I was recruiting people into homosexuality. On Sunday while talking to a group of guys in my neighborhood, I was informed that there was a witch hunt for me and my ‘boy-girl’ friends; they wanted to cut off our balls and burn us to death.”
Beyonce escaped the area and secured emergency accommodation, but after two days she had to move on again, that’s when her luck ran out.
“I went to a friend’s house and as I waited at the gate, a number of guys came and beat me up. The attack lasted about five minutes and fortunately, a friend of mine happened to be in the vicinity and came to my rescue. He scared the goons away and managed to save my bag; I was in shock and tears as I quickly digested what had just happened. I was then taken to Bunga where I spent the night at another friend’s place. So far I have been supported by friends who have heard about my ordeal and offered assistance in one way or the other. This is not the first attack I have gone through but I strongly believe the people who have been sending me these threatening messages must have followed me and were determined to kill me. Of all the attacks I have been subjected to, this is the first time I have dealt with death threats and I am very scared for my life; I am currently staying at a safe house where East and Horn 48 has placed me for the time being.” [2]

The state of LGBTI criminalisation
Africa: Thirty four of Africa’s 54 countries, maintain laws that criminalise consensual same-sex
sexual practices between males, with 24 of these applying to sexual relations between women.
These laws most often perpetuate stigma, persecution and discrimination on the basis of a person’s
sexual orientation and gender identity, and they form the basis upon which governments deny
activists their right to freely associate with like-minded individuals. [3]
Latin America and the Caribbean: Despite its overall track record of progress in the fight for legal equality for LGBT people the Americas has the highest levels of violence and murder against the LGBTI population. However, at the same time, the region shows the highest levels of violence and murder against LGBTI population. [4]
The  Rapid Response Fund has been set up by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance to support LGBT-led organisations in 29 counties considered hostile to LGBT and MSM human rights.
The overall objective of the fund is to alleviate specific risks from stigma, discrimination and violence that threaten the provision, access and uptake of HIV services for LGBT people. Grants of between $5,000 and $20,000  for organisations that face an immediate or longer term threat are available

For more information visit Rapid Response Fund

[1] Although fictional, this account is based on testimony from an incident that occurred in one of the 29 countries covered by the EJAF Rapid Response Fund.