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NIGERIAN HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP CHANNELS AID TO SIERRA LEONEAN LGBT ACTIVISTS

in NIGERIA, 25/01/2012

LGBT Rights activists in Sierra Leone have received aid from an LGBT human rights defender fund coordinated by the Nigeria human rights organization, The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs).

In November 2011, George Freeman, the leader of WhyCantWeGetMarried.Com, an LGBT human rights group in Sierra Leone, reported a homophobic occurrence that members of the group experienced after granting an interview on a radio program.

In the report Freeman said, “After the radio program, Ephraim Bernard Wilson, Denzil Kargbo and George Reginald Freeman (all WhyCantWeGetMarried.Com staff members) were kicked out of their family homes and harassed and attacked with homophobic statements by their families.”

He continued, “Bernard’s family said that homosexuality is not accepted in Christianity; Denzil’s friends said that because of moral values he needed to leave the house; and George’s family said that homosexuality is satanic and a taboo to African culture so he needed to leave.”

Last week, Behind the Mask’s Lagos correspondent interviewed the trio and they seemed to be adjusting well to their new situation. They were also grateful for the support provided by the LGBT Human Defenders Fund.

During the discussion, George Freeman said, “When it all happened, we applied to several organizations including the Urgent Action Fund, Frontline Defenders and the LGBT Human Rights Fund. We received no response except from the LGBT Human Rights Fund.”

Freeman added, “The LGBT Human Rights Fund has helped me a lot. It helps me psychologically. It gives me hope and courage to continue the work we are doing.”

Freeman explained how the fund had helped saying, “The fund was received through an electronic bank transfer made to the account of the organizations. Each individual received about US$1,900 and then an addition funding for the replacement of equipment such as: laptops, cameras and flash drives.”

Wilson said, “Now, we have a safe space in the hostel and we have some sort of security. Where we stay now, no one could just come asking for you, they need to have an appointment. The security is fine and we feel safe.”

Kargbo added, “The funding helped us to get some food and other basic utilities.”

When asked about a clear-cut strategy on the sustainability of their welfare, Freeman said, “We are working to ensure that we have more projects so that we can have about 40 per cent of the budget to cover personnel costs and al capacity building. This is our policy actually.”

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