Musician Sir Elton John has vowed to fight for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in African countries where it is illegal to be in a same sex relationship.
He also wants the South African government to provide Pre- exposure prophylaxis to key populations in the country.
John has called on government to give PrEP to the LGBT community. From last month, PrEP has only been given to sex workers in South African.
He was addressing the media at the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban where they announced the recipients of the $ 10 million dollar in PEPFAR grants for the LGBT projects.
Throughout the conference, calls have been made for governments and communities to stop discriminating against key and vulnerable populations, saying stigma hinders progress in the HIV/AIDS response.
John has vowed to fight for the rights of lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender in countries where it is illegal to be in a same sex relationship.
“We are going to try with this brilliant help of PEPFAR, $ 10 million is a lot of money and we’ve got to put it to good use and we are going to help all the LGBT in countries that find it difficult to be LGBT, to know that we are on their side, we will fight for their rights, their human rights, everything.”
He says the campaign to end AIDS by 2030 will be a disaster if the LGBT community is excluded.
“No human being should be left behind. No matter what colour, no matter what sexual orientation, no matter what religious beliefs, everyone in this world was created equal. We all came out of a woman’s womb and we were all equal. We will all die equal. What happens in between becomes unequal.”
John says, “We need the PrEP desperately in this country. You’ve got the PrEP but I want to see it on a big widespread scale in this country and if you are out of the closet and be able to be out of the closet you are free.”
As a gay man living with HIV I realised that I am in a privileged position where I am able to work
He says while progress has been made in some countries including South Africa, there is still a long way to go in many countries.
“I know that certain countries in Africa will not respond to have someone like me telling them you should do this, you should do that. I count for nothing as far as that goes. What I can do is ensure that people who are LGBT, if the clinics are closed down we can give them medicine, if they are arrested we can get them legal aid. With these countries sometimes who knows it might take 50 years but I guarantee you it will change.”
The first recipients of the Pepfar Grant, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and the Global Forum on MSM and HIV will share the $ 100 million to work on addressing stigma and discrimination through creative and community led campaigns in Sub Saharan Africa and the Carribbean.
The International HIV/AIDS Alliance’s Shaun Mellors says, “As a gay man living with HIV I realised that I am in a privileged position where I am able to work, exist, have a voice, celebrate identity and access HIV and other health services.”
“ A privilege that many LGBT members around the world do not have. The fund would be available through two mechanisms which are the emergency response grants and challenge response grants.”
Furthermore, three PEPFAR supported countries will be funded to increase access to quality HIV services for LGBT people in high HIV burdened areas.