Rapid Response Fund launched for LGBT and MSM groups
SAfAIDS Media Desk, 05 September 2016 (SAfAIDS) - Same-sex relations are illegal in 36 of Africa's 55 countries according to Amnesty International (2014). Despite national policies that emphasise equity and social justice and forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation, sub Saharan Africa still has many reported cases of physical and sexual violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
According to amfAR (2013), police in Zimbabwe actively pursue and arrest men who have sex with men (MSM), or those suspected of being LGBT, as well as those working on their behalf. The arrest of two Malawian men for attempting to marry in 2010, brought considerable attention to the rights of LGBT people. Against this backdrop of reported physical and sexual violence against LGBT and MSM, stigma and discrimination remain widespread and affect many aspects of the lives of these populations.
Worldwide, gay men and other men who have sex with men are 19 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population. Statistics for sub Saharan Africa are hard to verify because of the prevailing discriminatory environment, but if we are to achieve an HIV free generation and end HIV and AIDS by 2030, we must ensure open access to health services by LGBT people. Civil society groups, LGBT organisations and governments need to work together to eradicate stigma and discrimination.
To this end, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance is administering a $4m Rapid Response Fund, funded by the Elton John Aids Foundation (EJAF), the US. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and UNAIDS.
The main objective of the Rapid Response Fund is to alleviate specific risks caused by stigma, discrimination and violence that threaten provision, access and uptake of HIV services for MSM and LGBT people. Activities likely to be considered will include: advocacy activities responding to sudden legal, political or policy developments that threaten the LGBT community; support for short term-litigation; conducting sensitisation of law enforcement, healthcare officers, community leaders and policy makers; sensitising family members of LGBT people; or mapping of LGBT friendly facilities; and establishment of safe spaces.
The funding is currently available in 29 countries in Africa and the Caribbean where MSM and the LGBT community are at significant risk of experiencing human rights violations. The Rapid Response Fund will be preferentially allocated to civil society organisations led by LGBT and MSM, or to organisations with a proven track record of working with LGBT and MSM. The grants offered are between $5,000 and $20,000.
For more information visit:
@twitterhandle Grants to support #LGBT #MSM groups respond to threats to #HIV services now available! www.rapidresponsefund.org