At the Elton John AIDS Foundation we have a long history of partnering with the LGBTQ+ community to advocate for and protect their legal rights across the world.
LGBTQ+ communities are still some of the most affected by the HIV pandemic. Nearly a third of all nations class LGBTQ+ people as criminals and homosexuality is punishable by death in 12 countries; this injustice is greatly hindering progress towards an AIDS-free future.
We believe nobody should be left behind in the fight to end AIDS, so we have accelerated our efforts and increased investment to challenge the barriers that stop the LGBTQ+ community from accessing life-saving HIV and health services. Since August 2022, we have committed eight new grants totalling over $4 million including in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Uganda, and Laos. In Uganda, our partners are working to help LGBTQ+ people access vital HIV testing, treatment, PrEP, and provide mental health support for those living with trauma and self-stigma. Since February this year, with our support, they have tested over 18,000 people for HIV, helped 3,265 people initiate PrEP and provided over 1,500 people with mental health services.
23 year old Ejau* was referred to one of our partners after being very badly beaten on the street in her neighbourhood for being a transgender woman.
‘’They blindfolded me, beat and roughed me up. One of them kept laughing hysterically while another kicked my groin area repeatedly over and over before pulling out a knife and slashing at my testicles saying “let’s make sure you become a woman”.
Thanks to our partner, Ejau has received medical treatment, trauma counselling and is now resettled in a new area.
‘’Not for a second did I ever feel belittled , am saying this because this is how I have felt for the last decade. Whenever I wanted a service from a health centre, a bank or even buying some groceries from the store I usually felt judgment. Here I was treated with love, respect and professionalism. I believe my confidence and self-esteem will return with time and hopefully I’ll put the incidence in the past and be myself once again.”
We know that there are so many people in all corners of the world that are facing violence, stigma and discrimination every day. That’s why we are also providing funding to the Human Dignity Trust, the only organization working globally to eradicate laws that criminalize people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Working with lawyers, community-based organisations, and activists around the world, they support strategic litigation and legislative reform. Our partnership focuses on eliminating harmful laws in 10 countries in three key regions: Southern Africa, East and West Africa, and Asia Pacific. Earlier this month, with the help of our ongoing support, the Human Dignity Trust played a key role in decriminalising same-sex activity between men in Mauritius enabling thousands of people to love who they want without fear.
It is only when permanent, structural legal change occurs that sustainable HIV prevention and treatment and wider social inclusion of LGBTQ+ people will be realized.
For over 30 years we’ve made it our mission to uplift the rights, health and wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community and we will not stop until everyone has the access to the healthcare they need.
*name has been changed.