This project seeks to achieve 4 broad objectives in francophone Africa, namely: ensure that Francophone LGBTI advocates and organisations have enhanced capacity, are skilled, and able to engage in SOGI advocacy; broaden the LGBTI leadership in 9 francophone countries; proactively address security concerns and increase organisational and HRDs’ preparedness to respond to security risks, threats and incidents; and design and implement a communication strategy for public awareness of SOGI issues through the media.
To achieve this, AMSHeR strengthens the capacity of francophone LGBTI organisations through trainings and sub-granting projects; facilitates peer-to-peer learning; country exchanges and participation at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) sessions. This is complemented by the facilitation of national partnerships between LGBTI organisations, mainstream civil society organisations (CSOs) and the media inter se, and LGBTI organisations and the multi-sectorial stakeholders.
This project seeks to ensure that stakeholders in selected countries understand and better implement a human rights approach to HIV programming for MSM/LGBTI persons in selected countries. To achieve this, AMSHeR is implementing the AMSHeR/HPP Decision Model and Policy Analysis Tool in 15 countries across the continent.
AMSHeR also provides trainings to representatives from MSM/TG/SW organizations together with key national stakeholders who are involved (instrumental) in HIV response. Some of these stakeholders include: Ministries of Health, Ministries of Justice, National Aids Council, national human rights institutions and service providers at different levels. A multi-sectorial dialogue and partnership is initiated between these national stakeholders, who then develop and implement country advocacy plans under the leadership of MSM/LGBTI organisations with technical support from AMSHeR and funding partners.
The main challenges faced by LGBT people in Africa are often the ignorance of LGBT related issues, and the lack of visibility of LGBT people and their supporters in the public domain. The discourse on same-sex sexuality is still very much dominated by people’s ‘morals,’ ignorance and teachings and readings of culture and religion. Most people, including policy makers have not been engaged on and/or discusses LGBT issues. In most instances, they have not met an African self-identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.
Additionally, LGBTI activism in Africa has been limited to either the decriminalisation of same-sex practises, on increasing access to HIV services, or on the protection from harassment, violence rape and even murder, not many projects have worked towards debunking the ‘unAfrican’ argument often used to dismiss all forms sexuality that either challenge heterosexuality as the norm, or transgress gender construction.
AMSHeR’s experience working on sexual orientation and gender related issues in Africa has proven that ignorance remains the main driver of the intolerance and human rights violations faced by LGBTI people on the continent. Education and information materials on LGBTI issues that are available for the public consumption are often derogatory and stigmatizing. Moreover the impact of the rigidity of the social context ahs limited LGBTI has limited the ability of LGBTI people to claim their identity[ies], as a consequence the majority of people are yet to meet a self-identifying lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex person.
Same-sex sexuality in Africa is still largely taboo. Homosexuality is considered alien, and against African values and cultures. Self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people are often accused of dubbing Western behaviours, and corrupting African mores. Several African politicians and heads of government including Robert Mugabe, Jacob Zuma and Rail Odinga, have made strong references to African tradition in statements proscribing same-sex sexuality in Africa.
However, very little effort has been [or is being] made to allow for self-identified LGBTI people to reclaim their humanity, their African heritage.
The Voices Film Project
The project aims at sensitizing the general population on sexual orientation and gender identity, using an empowering and affirming framework, which the human rights and public health frameworks don’t always allow. The Voices takes a first hand look [through a positive lens] at the lives of African LGBTI individuals and their families, friends and communities throughout Africa. The project will give a voice to LGBTI people, their families and their supporters to share their views and experiences in an attempt to:
- Debunk the ‘unAfrican’ argument often used against same-sex practising people in Africa;
- Foster visibility, tolerance and acceptance;
- Garner support from mainstream organisations and the general public to better protect the rights of LGBTI people form human rights violations.
Ultimately and perhaps more importantly, this project will give that young LGBT person somewhere on the continent, a positive role model that is relatable to his/her own situation. It will restore self-esteem, self-confidence and acceptance of his/her own identity that is otherwise eroded through constant exposure to homophobic agents and a feeling of isolation and shame.
THE VOICES FILM DOCUMENTARY WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC FOR VIEWING FROM THE 15TH OF JUNE 2014