Published On: Thu, Dec 1st, 2016

Zimbabwean Gays and Lesbians want end to stigma, discrimination

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By A Correspondent

Zimbabwe’s gay and lesbian community has demanded an end to stigma and discrimination against them, saying the practice went against efforts to reduce new HIV infections in all persons.

Sexual Rights Centre (SRC) director, Humphrey Ndondo said stigma and discrimination against sex workers, gays and lesbians hindered efforts to ensure a 90 percent reduction in new HIV infections, 90% reduction in stigma and discrimination and 90% reduction in HIV/Aids related deaths.

The 90-90-90 is a United Nations treatment target set in 2013 to help end the Aids epidemic by 20130.

Ndondo however said the country’s restrictive environment and government’s attitude towards sex workers, lesbians, gays, bisexual transgender and intersex (LGBT) will see Zimbabwe failing to achieve the UN 90-90-90 target.

“It (UN target) is a commitment to leave no one behind, including sex workers and LGBT, in HIV response programmes.

“What we are saying is that if we do not stop looking at sex workers and LGBT as filthy and immoral human beings, we will miss the target in terms of controlling or abetting the HIV pandemic,” Ndondo said during the World Aids commemorations.

The commemorations are held annually on December 1. This year’s commemorations were held under the theme “It is in our hands to end HIV and TB.”

President Robert Mugabe has had so many running battles with gays after openly exhibiting his relentless homophobia.

In 2001, Mugabe’s bodyguards assaulted a gay rights activist Peter Tatchell after he tried to effect a citizen arrest on Mugabe over human rights abuses during an official visit to Brussels in Belgium.

Ndondo however said such attitudes against sex work and LGBT were unhelpful in the fight against reducing HIV infections as the latter were also affected by the pandemic.

“We will not win this war (against HIV) if others have no access to basic human rights pertaining to accessing basic HIV health care services because of the stigma and discrimination associated with sex work and LGBT persons.

“We are building a critical conscious awareness base to challenge stigma and discrimination, at the very same time we are working with government structures, sensitizing health care workers, albeit in small numbers because it is difficult to scale up the activities because of the restrictive environment in relation to our laws,” Ndondo added.