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International Symposium on gay men & Aids

in NETHERLANDS, 20/10/2004

On this occasion, Hivos will commemorate Murdered Lesbian Activist at Amsterdam Homomonument

More than 50 prominent international experts, activists and scientists are expected at the global symposium on ‘Homosexualities and HIV/AIDS: More Than A Question of Rights” in Amsterdam on October 21, 2004. This major symposium, focussing exclusively on the link between homosexualities and HIV/AIDS, will be organised by the Dutch Humanist Institute for Devopment Cooperation in association with major Dutch and international AIDS, LGBT and human rights NGOs.
On this occasion, Hivos will commemorate Murdered Lesbian Activist at Amsterdam Homomonument

More than 20 years after HIV and AIDS were first diagnosed amongst gay and bisexual men in the North, their NGOs in the South are important advocates for HIV/AIDS prevention and care amongst men and women. Especially in countries where sexuality and sexual health cannot be discussed openly, gay men and their organisations are important social catalysts.

Still, gay and bisexual men (or MSMs, ‘Men who have Sex with Men’) are marginalised and neglected concerning financial support, funding and scientific research, especially in the South. They are in need of aid, protection and support by government officials, NGOs and scientists and their importance in promoting prevention, safer sex and openness about sexuality for society as a whole is crucial

This symposium allows experts, activists and activists from Asia, Africa, Latin-America, the US and Europe to demand special attention for gay men, their battle against HIV/AIDS and to discuss issues concerning discrimination and future action. For interviews and list of experts and scientists present please refer to the Hivos spokeswoman – contact details below.

Judge Edwin Cameron, South Africa: “The fact that AIDS in Africa can not be dismissed as a ‘gay plague’ does not mean that its effects on gay men and men who have sex with men (MSMs) are not devastating. Gay men and MSMs in Africa have all too little recognition, too little support, and too little information specifically directed to them. They are isolated and often fearful, operating clandestinely, becoming clandestinely infected, and too often passing their infection clandestinely on.

Dr Rubén Mayorga, Guatemala: “Proportionally, gay men (homosexuals and bisexuals) and other MSM present the highest HIV and AIDS prevalence documented to date in Guatemala and Central America. The number of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support programmes and projects for this group is quite insignificant compared with the magnitude of the problem in this group. Gay men and other MSM living with HIV and AIDS are extremely young and almost a third of them have sexual relations with women and men.”

Dr Shivananda Khan, India: “People abused, violated, arrested, threatened, blackmailed, beaten because they happen to be hijras, kothis, or effeminate gay men. The very state agencies that are meant to protect citizens, actively support, or even directly involve themselves in targeting males who have sex with males, particularly those who are feminised. More than just the fact of male to male sex, a central real issue is the abuse, sexual assault and violence.
87% of respondents in a study conducted in Bangladesh stated that they have been subjected to sexual assault or rape because they were effeminate. The situation is not much different in other countries of South Asia.”

Hivos Commemorates Murdered Lesbian Activist at Amsterdam Homomonument

Hivos to commemorate FannyAnn Eddy on Saturday, 23 October, at the Amsterdam Homomonument, from 5 – 6 pm.

FannyAnn Eddy, founder of the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association (SLLAGA) in 2002, was murdered on the night from 28 to 29 September in her office in Sierra Leone. She had been the courageous advocate in Geneva, at the UN Human Rights Committee, of the Brazil Resolution in April of this year, which should have acknowledged ‘sexual orientation’ as a human right.

FannyAnn Eddy (1974 – 2004): "Silence creates vulnerability. You, members of the Commission on Human Rights, can break the silence. You can acknowledge that we exist, throughout Africa and on every continent, and that human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity are committed every day. You can help us combat those violations and achieve our full rights and freedoms, in every society, including my beloved Sierra Leone."


FANNYANN VIOLA EDDY AND HIVOS – BACKGROUND INFORMATION

In 2002 FannyAnn visited Hivos partner GALZ in Zimbabwe to ask for advice how to start an LGBT group in her home country Sierra Leone. At that time she was living as a refugee in Zimbabwe.
She however returned home, and founded the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association (SLLAGA) in 2002.
Whereas Hivos does not have a country programme in Sierra Leone itself, Hivos has prioritised to provide support to upcoming LGBT initiatives throughout Africa, by supporting Africa wide initiatives that aim to strengthen the visibility of LGBT people in Africa and contribute to the building of LGBT organisations and the LGBT movement at large on the African continent.
FannyAnn was an active participant in two Hivos sponsored Africa wide LGBT conferences.
At the first All-Africa Rights Initiative conference in Johannesburg 2004, she proudly informed a delegation of nearly 60 people from 22 LGBT groups in 17 African countries how she recently managed to register her organisation and open a bank account, despite being openly ridiculed at the bank counter. At this meeting FannyAnn was part of the group of women delegates that formed a women’s caucus session to demand attention for the recently formed African Lesbian Alliance given the need for special attention for the issues and priorities for lesbian women in Africa.
The African Lesbian Alliance is a new network of lesbian women in Africa, that was initiated by a group of young lesbian women during the 2003 “Sex and Secrecy” conference in Johannesburg. They received Hivos support to document personal life stories from different countries in Africa on female same-sex relationships. Hivos partner the Rainbow Project in Namibia is currently hosting the secretariat for the African Lesbian Alliance. In August this year over 20 women came together in Windhoek to develop a strategic plan for the Alliance and to prepare for the official launch of the Alliance. At this meeting FannyAnn became a member of the African Lesbian Alliance steering committee. The members of both the All-Africa Rights initiative and the African Lesbian Alliance are shocked at the news of her murder.


Organisation:
Hivos is a Dutch non-governmental organisation which operates on the basis of humanist values. Hivos aims to contribute towards a free, just and sustainable world. Hivos is committed to the poor and marginalised - and to the organisations which promote their interests – in countries in the South, including Central Asia and Southeast Europe. Sustainable improvement of their situations is the ultimate benchmark for Hivos’ work. An important cornerstone is strengthening of the position of women in society.
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