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SAfAIDS launches zero tolerance to homophobia campaign
Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS)
October 03, 2013

Over 40 African Leaders from Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe are gathered in Johannesburg for The Regional Leadership Indaba aimed at championing the fight against homophobia. Running with the theme “Leadership is protecting ALL: Protecting ALL is Leadership”, witnessed leaders from the religious, political and cultural spectrums engaging in dialogues for change and protection of “ALL” including LGBTI community.

Rev Gift Mpho Moerane, of the South Africa Council of Churches set the tone of the two days workshop by his thought provoking remarks. In his address, the Reverend highlighted the importance of involving religious leaders and churches in the fight against discrimination and the violations of human rights. “Leaders should come together to pressure governments to act against discrimination. Violation of human rights should be part of the government agenda. As leaders you need to act as the voices of the voiceless ones” said Rev Moerane. He emphasised the importance of leaders working together to help curb the rise of discrimination of people for no reason.

The two day indaba comes at a time when Africa is facing a widespread epidemic of violence against the LGBTI communities and is serving as a perfect vehicle to educate the various leaders on LGBTI issues and their role in fighting homophobia.

The launch of the Leadership is protecting ALL Indaba marks an important time in Africa. “We enforce the concept of Ubuntu, which emphasises a mutual respect amongst people. Today we pledge to speak out against any form of discrimination, stigma against LGBTI persons. Most importantly we pledge to take care of one another”, said SAfAIDS Executive Director, Mrs Lois Chingandu. The lack of understanding often causes discrimination and stigmatization. It is therefore the duty of everyone here to deconstruct the notions around homosexuality and clarify that same sex relationships are not rooted in their sexual function; It is not something new homosexuality can be traced back in time, added Mrs Chingandu.

In his address SAfAIDS Head of Regional Programmes, Mr Ngoni Chibukire acknowledged the primary goals of the conference which aims to increase respect for human rights of the LGBTI persons through; addressing key drivers of homophobia among leaders in Africa. “The end goal of the Leadership Indaba is to get leaders and the media to speak out on abuse and challenge the wave to criminalize LGBTI people,” said Mr Chibukire.

Professors Rothney Tshaka and Leon Roets of the University of South Africa; UNISA provided insights into Sexual Rights and the workplace. Key themes identified include: Sexual Rights as leverage for Social Justice towards LGBTI wellbeing in workplace, organisations and community. In their presentation, they highlighted the importance of treating people equally, with dignity and fairness. The benefit of this will be felt by society at large. Social justice is about giving people what is due.

“In a workshop like this LGBTI should participate so that they can talk to us “Never plan with people that plan for people” said Leon Roets of UNISA. Meetings like this are important in influencing change of laws; we need them to help create visibility and a voice for the voiceless ones. If the leaders can be educated on issues of LGBTI they will help educate their communities to embrace homosexuality as a natural trait. It is a part of who one is like their race, it is not something you can change or choose” added Professor Roets.

Speakers also touched on Gender Based Violence (GBV), transforming gender (addressed from myopic discussion), unequal power structures in society, sexual abuse and culture of lawlessness (covering of LGBTI and other minorities).

The launch of the Movement for Rock Leadership Champions and the “Zero Tolerance for Homophobia” Campaign in Africa emphasized the need to develop interventions that are evidence based. Foster dialogues and also educate leaders on the matters relating to the LGBTI.

Visit the SAfAIDS fact sheet

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