Elton John, an award-winning English singer and songwriter, has announced his plan to establish a $10 million fund with the help of Pepfar, a USAID relief agency, to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in Africa, according to the Guardian.
Speaking at the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, Wednesday, the artist said he intends to use the funds to provide members of the LGBT community in Africa with the necessary resources to empower themselves both socially and financially.
“What I can do is ensure that people who are LGBT – if their clinics are closed down because they are LGBT – we can give them medicine. If they are arrested, we will get them legal aid,” John said.
Message of Hope
While acknowledging that many African countries are still opposed to gay rights, John said they will pull together every resource they have to ensure they win the fight against homophobia in Africa.
“You might have to fight for your own life, but it will be worth it because in the end, you will win,” he added.
The singer also remembered how in the early ’60s members of the LGBT community in England were prosecuted or forced to travel all the way to North Africa to have sex.
He, however, commended South Africa for the significant progress it has made in wiping out homophobia and accepting the LGBT community.
Before attending the conference, the singer — along with South Africa’s Minister for Health Aaron Motsoaledi — visited LGBT patients at Anova Clinic in Durban, South Africa.
John also remembered the kind of homophobia that existed in South Africa a few years ago, when he visited the country to meet with members of the LGBT community.
“I met some White members of the LGBT community in a room above a café or restaurant. None of those people wanted to have their photographs taken because they didn’t want to be seen in the newspapers. Because if they were seen in a photograph with me and they were known to be gay, they would be subject to attack,” he recalled.
The singer called on African governments to include the LGBT community in their fight against AIDS, saying it is the only guarantee for a successful campaign against AIDS.
Despite numerous efforts by human rights campaigners to end homophobia, many African governments are still reluctant to legally recognize the existence of LGBT members in their communities.
Some African nations, such as Uganda, have even passed laws criminalizing homosexuality. Many homosexuals across Africa are still being subjected to discrimination and stigmatization, with some even being forced in to hiding for fear of being attacked.