Key Actions for Global Donors to Respond Effectively to the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in Nigeria

Bridging the Gaps partner the Global Forum on MSM & HIV is calling on global HIV donors to do their part to ensure that LGBT people in Nigeria, and around the world, can access the quality services they deserve. Make sure to strengthen them in this call and sign your organization on here:  http://www.msmgf.org/index.cfm/id/65/alert_id/20/

January 27, 2014—The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) stands with the Initiative for Equal Rights (TIER) and International Center for Advocacy and Right to Health (ICARH) in calling on global HIV donors to support greater protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and better systems for preventing violence. Following President Goodluck Jonathan’s signature of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act just two weeks ago, at least 12 men in the northern Nigerian state of Bauchi have been arrested for belonging to gay organizations, with one young man convicted of sodomy and sentenced to fines and 20 public lashings. Seven of the arrested men were received by a mob of thousands of angry protestors gathered outside the court house, throwing stones during their arraignment. Countless other Nigerian LGBT people and their allies are now living with the very real fear of possible arrest and violence created by this new law.

Local advocates and community-based organizations are an essential part of the response to HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Nigeria and around the world. Despite unfounded claims to the contrary by Nigeria’s National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), legislation that restricts the activities of LGBT people, advocates, and organizations has a devastating impact on provision of and access to effective HIV services for our communities. Without the leadership and services provided by these advocates and organizations, the only effective infrastructure for addressing HIV among MSM will collapse, leaving one of the largest and most affected populations without access to life-saving services. 

It is time for all levels of the global AIDS response to recognize the realities of the contexts in which LGBT advocates and organizations work. This includes ensuring that international projects have appropriate funding for security and emergency response, as well as a commitment to advocate against violence – both physical and structural – when called to do so by local stakeholders. Global responses to human rights crises should take direction from and be closely coordinated with advocates on the ground.
 
We recognize the important and unique role global donors have to play in responding to the unfolding situation in Nigeria. Since 2004, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has provided more than $2.5 billion U.S. dollars to fight HIV and AIDS in Nigeria, with recent annual investments of over $450 million. Similarly, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (GFATM) has committed $1.5 billion to Nigeria, disbursing $1 billion thus far.  For HIV programming, the GFATM has committed nearly $513 million to Nigeria, disbursing almost $435 million.  Moreover, the GFATM has selected Nigeria is a priority country for adopting the New Funding Model in 2014.
 
Given the threat that the new draconian law poses to LGBT people and to an effective HIV response, particularly given the large investments in Nigeria’s HIV programming, we call on global HIV donors, including PEPFAR and the GFATM, to:
 
REJECT the baseless assertion that the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act and other structural factors play no role in an effective HIV response among LGBT people, recognizing that such legislation represents not only a grave human rights violation but also makes providing and accessing appropriate HIV services extremely risky.
 
IMMEDIATELY communicate directly with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan urging the repeal of this new law and asking that he direct police authorities to stop arrests of Nigerian LGBT citizens.
 
IMMEDIATELY bar and disinvite Nigeria from taking leadership positions within their processes.
 
IMMEDIATELY establish a civil society emergency task force for the prevention of human rights violations among LGBT people, aimed at reprogramming grant funds to: 

  • Protect and provide safety to LGBT citizens and those that serve them;
  • Provide safe spaces for LGBT citizens;
  • Plan and implement violence mitigation interventions;
  • Expand access to legal services;
  • Fully fund civil society organizations working to mount legal challenges to criminalization laws and working to change negative public attitudes about homosexuality; and
  • Develop and implement a personal security protocol to support and protect the safety of providers serving LGBT people at the country level.

CONTINUE to intensify and sustain their scrutiny of how their funds are used at the country level to ensure that the funds are:

  • Directed to key populations in a manner that is commensurate with reliable HIV surveillance data; and
  • Not used to support approaches that undermine the human rights of MSM and other key populations.

CONTINUE to urge multi-lateral organizations (e.g., UNAIDS, WHO), health ministries, and public health officials at country level to actively and vocally reject punitive laws undermining the health and rights of LGBT people. 
 
Please sign your organization on below to join us in calling on global HIV donors to do their part to ensure that LGBT people in Nigeria, and indeed around the world, can access the quality services they deserve. The MSMGF will continue to track the developments in Nigeria, working with local advocates to hold global donors accountable to effective, timely, and impactful responses.  

SIGN ON HERE: http://www.msmgf.org/index.cfm/id/65/alert_id/20/ 

Associated Press: Protesters throw stones, disrupt Nigeria gay trial

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