In countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, Hivos works with courageous human rights defenders who challenge the homophobic attitudes and laws in their countries. Over the years, our partners have worked towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Nepal, Nicaragua and India. And with success. In all three countries, homosexuality as a criminal offence was scrapped from the penal code in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively. Both Indian and Nepalese governments have now officially introduced a third gender category for transgender people.
In other countries, acceptance of homosexuality is still far away. Since MP Bahati introduced his anti-gay bill in Uganda in 2009, the Ugandan LGBT movement is under severe pressure. Hivos supports the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which since 2009 has successfully kept the anti-gay bill from becoming law. The Coalition combines the forces of human rights, women’s rights, health and LGBT rights organisations to strengthen the movement for a just society with respect for sexual diversity. Linking LGBT groups to a broader civil society movement is one of Hivos’ key support strategies.
Within the LGBT programme, Hivos pays special attention to specific groups such as lesbians and transgender people. In South Africa, Hivos partners such as Lulekisizwe and Free Gender fight “corrective rape” of lesbian women within townships in Cape Town by raising awareness within communities, sensitizing local authorities and police officers, pressing for perpetrators to be prosecuted and providing support to victims. In Honduras, where especially transgender people’s lives are threatened, Hivos partner Colectivo Unidad Color Rosa helps transgender activists to advance LGBT rights and reduce the impunity surrounding hate crimes committed against the transgender community.
During twenty years of support to the LGBT movement, Hivos has helped marginalised groups turn into professional organisations that advocate for equal rights within their countries. Bolivian partner organisation Libertad, founded in 1996, was officially recognised as the first LGBT organisation by the Bolivian government in 2001. The pioneering work of Libertad sparked off the development of an active LGBT movement and made LGBT rights and issues visible within Bolivian society and policy. As a member of the national Committee for AIDS prevention, Libertad aims to ensure equal access to prevention, care and treatment for LGBT people.
Within the capacity development programme Ji-Sort, 25 East African LGBT groups participate in a three-year process that includes peer exchange, tailor-made training, leadership development and organisational coaching.