MSMGF: Injustice for Africa’s HIV positive people
In the lead up to AIDS 2014, Kene Esom from African Men for Sexual Health & Rights (AMSHeR), South Africa, spoke of the many injustices faced by Africa’s LGBTI people.
Esom gave an impassioned speech to those assembled at the Men who have Sex with Men Global Forum (MSMGF) suggesting the impact of HIV on men who have sex with men (MSM) is different in every continent but that the discrimination and stigma faced by those from African nations could be life threatening.
“When African LGBTIQ are persecuted, they do not feel they can find justice,” he said.
Esom said “We must not just look to governments and their laws. Social and religious laws play a huge part in the African nation.”
While Esom saw the need for public outcry over discrimination against LGBTI people – something he described as ‘megaphone diplomacy’ he suggested a softer approach could also return better results for those discriminated against because of their HIV status.
“Megaphone diplomacy may serve a purpose - but there is a place for quiet diplomacy. And a lot of influence resides in such places.”
He suggested it was time to mainstream the story of those living with HIV, to put a face, if you will, to the epidemic.
And while the likes of President Obama have suggested blocking economic aid to nation’s such as Uganda, which have invoked harsh anti-gay laws, Esom urged against such actions, saying: “We cannot diminish the rights of one group while we fight for the rights of another. Do not take away the aid.”