Aids and Rights Alliance meeting discusses opportunities for LGBTI groups on second day

The second day of the Aids and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa (Arasa) meeting for LGBTI and human rights organizations in Pretoria, South Africa discussed opportunities in the human rights sphere.

Some of the discussions focussed on how the LGBTI agenda could be advanced beyond funding constraints by utilising existing resources to achieve better penetration of human rights concerns.

The participants at the meeting split into four separate groups to look into the different issues which were raised on the first day. These issues were titled Segregated Activism, Prevention and Treatment (health need), Human Rights Documentation and Capacity Building and Sustainability.

The meeting also deliberated on the unique vulnerabilities encountered by LGBTI communities with regards to health care needs. The need for prevention interventions to address the healthcare needs of such communities was also discussed.

About the aims of the meeting as a whole, Fikile Vilakazi from the Coalition of African Lesbians said, “The vision is to have a network of LGBTI leaders meeting to share the ideas and support each other to avoid burn out.”

She added that, the other major issue facing the LGBTI community is that of power and autonomy within the movement explaining that this meant the power relations between international and regional organizations. She said that this would mean discovering where power and control lay with international organizations and gave the examples of IGLHRC Africa and Pan African ILGA.

Speaking about how to overcome these challenges Vilakazi said “We need to identify themes to focus on for the next three to five years and review periodically for example advocacy, track state reports and shadow reports and increase visibility at regional and international levels. We also need skills sharing such as how to register LGBTI organizations in countries [where there are problems].”

Reporting on the discussions of the Capacity Building and Resources group, Danilo da Silva from Lambda Mozambique spoke of “internal problems” which he said include a lack of capacity and weak governance and “external problems” which he said include the political and legal framework and a weak civil society.

Currently in many countries in Southern Africa there is little scope for local funding of national LGBTI organizations, programmes, projects and activities as a result of the “illegal” status of LGBTI led organizations.

This is because many organizations are unable to register as Community Based Organisations (CBOs) in their own countries and this often makes it difficult for them to access donor funding directly. Such funding is vital for the recruitment and retention of human resources capacity and for the implementation of activities.

Danilo said “Therefore, there is need to build capacity for new organisations, mobilize the resources and even consider registering [those] LGBTI organizations that cannot register in their own countries, in South Africa.”

From Behind the Mask

Join the discussion