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Published on 18/12/2015

The Great Lakes region of Africa: closure of the project supporting people discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation

On 26 and 27 November 2015, approximately fifty people from Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi met in Kigali to participate in the Regional closure conference of the project supporting associations working to help populations suffering discrimination in the Great Lakes region, which GRET had been leading for the last 3 years with the Humure in Burundi, the Health Development Initiative (HDI) in Rwanda and the LGBTI civil society organisations participating in the project.

The courage of all those involved in this project was highlighted. It contributed to the associative vitality of 19 civil society organisations working for the respect of sexual minorities’ rights in the Great Lakes region. Support groups (350 meetings in total), moderated by peer educators in large towns and in rural areas provided psycho-social support and identification of discrimination cases based on sexual orientation. They also made it possible to raise awareness on the prevention of HIV and AIDS. These groups made it possible to develop the regional base and the number of members in associations, to structure the associative life of the organisations, and create an associative dynamic and solidarity in each of the three countries concerned. There has been feedback from the conference: “we can now stand tall to speak in the name of our community”; “the project gave us confidence in ourselves. It strengthened our cohesion”; “networking between organisations has become stronger”.

The conference is part of an effort for collective education, for learning lessons to inform future projects and for debates on the subject of “LGBTI, human rights and African culture”. Artists who were awarded prizes during artistic competitions organised throughout the project at the international meetings on 17 May (fight against homophobia and transphobia), 1 December (fight against HIV and Aids) and 10 December (human rights), shared their talents and made this a conference “like no other”, just like the project itself. This project really was like no other project. It was not just technical, it was also deeply human, requiring not just social engineering, but also commitment. As HDI director Aflodis Kagaba said at the end of the Conference: “Nobody will give you rights. We have to fight to have the same rights for everyone.” Today we are all ready to continue.

More informations on the Project (in French)