Homophobia fuelling HIV infections

RECENT statistics from the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (Galz) that the prevalence rate among the gay population is above the national figure make scary reading and calls for a balancing act to “appease the moral crusades” and at the same time ensure all the taps on HIV infection are closed

BY PHYLLIS MBANJE

The gay population is disproportionately burdened by HIV infection, a situation which is worsened by laws that penalise same-sex intercourse and contribute to a cycle of stigma, homonegativity and discrimination.

In many African countries, laws criminalising homosexuality may be fuelling the epidemic, as they dissuade key populations from seeking treatment and health care providers from offering it.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries where homosexuality is contra bonos mores (against societal values) and there is widespread homophobia (range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

However, recent reports shared by Galz suggest that the prevalence is reportedly rising among the gay population, with at least 32,8% of women, who have sex with other women and 28% of men, who have sex with other men being HIV positive.

Zimbabwe criminalises same sex marriages. Even though the new Constitution guarantees rights such as equality and non-discrimination, it is silent on specific rights for LGBTI community.

It is against this background that a balancing act is now required. This is most critical in the face of reports that most of the members of the gay population are living double standards meaning some of them are in “normal” relationships, but secretly have same sex partners.

Chester Samba from Galz said it was important not to leave anyone behind in the fight against HIV and Aids.

“There are efforts to address this (closing the taps), however, this needs to be supported by strong political will,” he said. Samba said there are some attitudes of healthcare workers that drive away communities seeking care.

“As part of the Global Fund programme, a key focus would be training of healthcare workers on working with key populations,” he said.

Galz programmes officer, Sylvester Nyamatendedza, at a recent meeting, shared that accessing basic health needs for the gay population remained a huge challenge due to stigma and discrimination from the community and health workers.

Last year, National Aids Council (Nac) chief executive officer, Tapiwa Magure, responding to allegations that the gay community would be snubbed during World Aids Day commemorations, said they had an all inclusive policy, which was not discriminatory.

“We are opposed to discrimination of any kind … we even host key populations forum at Nac,” he said.

The Global Fund grant for 2018 to 2020 has a component of $19 million for key populations, which include the gay population.

Former President Robert Mugabe was well known for his distaste for the community and at several platforms referred to them as “worse than pigs and dogs”.

During the Aids conference in 2015, attendees expressed great concern at being closed out, particularly on accessing both information and health services.

Health minister David Parirenyatwa is on record saying all taps on HIV infection must be closed and that is the only way to halt further spread of the disease. So are they hopeful about the new political dispensation?

Samba said there were some legal challenges that require strong political will and commitment to work on this.

“Our sector needs to engage the government and we are in the process,” he said. According to research by Global Health Action in 21 African countries, Zimbabwe included, anti-homosexuality laws act to restrict access to services and limit provider efficacy, whether intentionally or not.

Widely held negative views about gay men and men who have sex with men in Africa, even among health care workers and academics associated with HIV care and research, have restricted optimal support and care for African men who have sex with men, or even research on their behalf.

Criminalisation reinforces those negative views, undermines care and research, and fuels the epidemic.

The researchers concluded that, while the United States government has condemned African anti-homosexuality legislation in stand-alone statements, but it has not directly tied such legislation to the effects on the HIV epidemic.

They also determined that while PEPFAR has acknowledged the negative role of stigma in fuelling the HIV epidemic, it has, so far, missed opportunities to explicitly address the role of criminalisation in feeding stigmatising attitudes.

18 Comments

  1. Comment…We know that there are witches(varoiyi) but we will never give them rights to practice their trade or even accept them. Some people claimed that their involvement in witchcraft is not by choice as it is a generational curse, yes we will sympathise with them but wont accept them unless they stop their henious trade.. This is the same with galz members. They are not acceptable to the society.

  2. LGBT have the right to health care. Preventing Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders from accessing health care is dangerous. Bear in mind that, most straight pple especially men leaves their wives to go out in search of sex with either Top gays, Bottom gays or Versatiles. They usually do this when their wives are pregnant, sick or menstruating. These are the very same pple who criticizes Gays but during the night they go out looking for LGBT pple.
    As long as you are a straight person but also attracted to same sex pple, you are part of LGBT.
    GALZ, should go out in schools, work places etc and educate pple about homosexuality and how to prevent HIV. Condoms and lubes should be available everywhere for free. That $19 million global fund should help everyone regardless of their sexual orientation.
    GOD BLESS LGBTs.

  3. @Sekuru Kaguvi, whether you like it or not, LGBT pple are here to stay, and staying forever. You should stop hating these beautiful and handsome creatures becoz, its GOD who created them. They dont harm anyone. They are not rapists, they dont steal, they dont kill, they dont practise abortion, they are hardworking etc. STOP HATING BECOZ LESBIANS,GAYS, BISEXUALS AND TRANSGENDERS, DO NOT FORCE YOU TO SLEEP WITH THEM.

  4. like it or not zim will never embrace the bi sexual or whatever you call them…Cry as you want.

    1. Really? How exactly are you going to do that shingi? What a fool.

  5. Well said Sekuru Kaguvi. We can and will never give heinous activities rights. What is wrong will remain wrong no matter how many people support it.

  6. Yes you may stay but without rights. Please continue your hide and seek stay but Zimbabwe will never! never! never grant you rights to practise your dirty antiques in public. God never asked u to paractise being gay. Its your choice. God hates lesbianism an because of it he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

  7. thank you Rico for the wise words. we need to accommodate these pple I have been to countries that protect their rights they mingle freely with pple. I have never seen them coercing anyone into sleeping wt them.

    1. charle they do not coerse anyone,but this is just inhumane

  8. Comment…what right do these creatures need. was a man ever created to fuch a man? Big N ooooooo! where did these people get these acts? from the devil.are we saying let us give rights to abominations? is it proper to allow bestiality, incest, witchcraft, etc cos someone is born with feelings to do just like that? nooo. the devil is at work here.

  9. Homosexuals are victims of their own perversions. To blame others for their self-inflicted condition is disingenuous. The misuse of the word homophobia as a label for anyone who does not agree with homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle choice is pathetic, as it seeks to promote one liberal view while suppressing others in an act of intolerance. If we are to see a reduction in HIV infections let us get to the root of the problem, and ask homosexuals to refrain from engaging in the filth they readily embrace. Society pays the bill for the treatment of their infections. The majority of Zimbabwean society is fully within its constitutional and legal rights to refute this lifestyle choice as indeed it does. Tolerance is a two way street, and expressing revulsion on LGBT issues is a fundamental right, not homophobia.

  10. not even animals can have same sex,they depend on nature’s provisions.You want rights to create yo own gods.this is idol worshiping.no to homosexualism

  11. victims of their perversion really!!!!? no one chooses to be gay that shows u are misinformed hu in his right mind wld want to be an outcast in a stone age society like ours.

  12. Comment…same sex is an abominationand demonic.we sympathise with these brothers and sisters. They need deliverance not encouragement.
    walls.

    1. for sure it’s an abomination and we cannot tolerate that.hatidi hedu

  13. Ngochani hadzina basa ngadzife

  14. As long it is still zimbabwe, we will not constitute tha dirt immoral habit. I never new that there are normal people who might support this habbit.

  15. Agh zvangu… nonsense, the wage of sin z death. to hell with you gay pple if u want ryts go n live outsyd Zim hativere ikoko. We dont need u… actually mutori burden munoumu

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