|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
The MSM community in Togo recently organised and held its annual Mr and Miss MSM Togo event in the capital, Lomé.
The event is an initiative of the Club of Seven Days, the first LGBTI organisation in Togo, with the sponsorship of PSI (Population Services International) via RAS+ (the network of people living with HIV/Aids in Togo).
More than 250 people, among them guests and members of the LGBTI community from neighbouring countries such as Benin, Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast, came to support their friends and brothers in the Togolese MSM community.
Ten candidates competed for the title of Mr and Miss MSM Togo. The competitors were split in two groups. One group of five transvestites competed for the title of Miss MSM Togo and the other five competed for Mr MSM Togo. The candidates went through a pre-selection process and also faced tough questions on the topic of HIV and Aids.
At the end of the competition candidate No 4 was crowned Miss MSM while the title of Mr MSM went to candidate No 1. The winners in both categories, Mr and Miss MSM Togo said how excited and proud they were to be crowned and vowed to work and raise awareness of the effect of HIV and Aids in the MSM community.
In his welcoming speech, the president of the Club of Seven Days thanked the members of the MSM community who attended the pageant in large numbers. Like the other guest speakers at the event, he insisted on reminding those gathered of the danger of the Aids pandemic that is affecting the MSM community in the country.
He said, “HIV and Aids are a reality in our community. We used to think that it affected only heterosexuals because all programmes of prevention were directed to them entirely. Now we know that LGBTI people also can have HIV. I therefore ask you to systematically use a condom every time you have sex.”
The president of the Club of Seven Days also deplored the lack of funding and enough sponsors. He said this made it difficult for them to organize a bigger and better event.
Many musicians from the local MSM community entertained the crowd until the early hours of the morning.
Article by: Christian Atato (BTM Correspondent in Togo)