In observation of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (May 17, 2011), US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a public statement, and a Capitol Hill briefing sponsored by the Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF) was held in collaboration with Co-Chairs of the congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
The National Association of Social Workers Senior Policy Associate, Evelyn Tomaszewski moderated the Panel entitled “Homophobia against Gay Men and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men in Sub-Sahara Africa and the Caribbean: Implications for HIV Policy and Programs”.
Speakers from the MSMGF Steering Committee included Samual Matsikurre, Programmes Manager for Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) and Coordinator for the Prevention and Research Initiative for Sexual Minorities in Southern Africa-Zimbabwe; Joel Nana, Executive Director of the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR); and Paul Semugoma, MD, an HIV and GLBTI activist, writer, and founder of Frank & Candy, Uganda.
Each spoke of the advocacy challenges and efforts of their communities, the importance of clarity in educating and working for change at the government levels. Helping others to ‘think outside the heterosexual framework’ to build allies and speaking out against homophobia as a key way to positively impact US global health and HIV policy were common themes.
Tomaszewski noted that heterosexism and homophobia create an environment of discrimination and bias, and sustain policies and practices that place lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons as less than equal with regard to legal rights, economic and educational opportunities, and social status across diverse societies. The briefing served as a reminder that we must be actively engaged to ensure civil and human rights for all persons in our communities.
For more information on issues of gender, homophobia, transphobia, etc., please also see the NASW Gender Equity page.