We believe that the end of AIDS is possible if there is more focus on key populations. Our project in Zimbabwe addresses barriers faced by the LGBT community related to their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Driven by community champions, we work to realize strong civil society that collectively holds the government to account; the public is conscious of the human rights of LGBT people; and accessible legal and health services.
Criminalisation and fear
Zimbabwe is a low-income country of 12.6 million people. Even though the Constitution of Zimbabwe acknowledges all citizens’ inherent dignity and guarantees the right to have that dignity respected, the law in Zimbabwe also criminalises LGBT conduct. This climate of criminalisation and intimidation has increased stigma and discrimination against LGBT people, excluding them from society, services and job opportunities. This has increased their vulnerability and the HIV risks they face.
Zimbabwe’s HIV prevalence rate is estimated at 15.2% among the general population. HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men is high. The estimated HIV prevalence among MSM is 17%. Zimbabwe has developed a National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan that recognises the need to prioritise the needs of key populations. However, the legal framework limits the access to HIV and SRHR services by LGBT people.
LGBT people claim a right-based HIV and SRHR response
Bridging the Gaps works with a Theory of Change approach. A Theory of Change is a description of a list of events that is expected to lead to a particular desired outcome. It is a visualization how change is believed to happen. In 2016, representatives of the LGBT community developed a Theory of Change that consists of short-,medium, and long term outcomes. The specified Theory of Change of the LGBT people project describes how we plan to realize strong civil society that collectively holds the government to account; the public is conscious of the human rights of LGBT people; and accessible legal and health services.
Through innovation and by building on previous work, we will strengthen civil society organisations’ ability to:
1. We facilitate community development
- Building LGBT movement through workshops and safe spaces.
- Increasing knowledge and understanding around sexualities, gender, gender identification and expression, wellbeing and human rights.
- Developing and distributing IEC materials with relevant and targeted information.
- Organising community events, such as a pride.
- Implementing a national and regional needs-assessment on (psychosocial) health and well-being.
- Conducting community-led research on the health and human rights status of LGBT people.
2. We advocate for the continuously strengthening of services and upholding human rights
- Submitting shadow report to the UPR and taking next steps.
- Involving and representing LGBT people in the national Technical Working Group on Key Populations of the Ministry of Health.
- Raising awareness, reporting human rights violations and organizing advocacy meetings.
3. We deliver inclusive, rights-based and gender sensitive services
- Increasing knowledge on safer sex practices through outreach, workshops and peer-education.
- Providing direct services like HIV testing and counseling and psychosocial support.
- Organizing regional round table on collaboration between CSOs and health clinics.
- Sensitizing healthcare providers and mobilizing service users.
4. We foster global and in-country process and partnerships that reinforce results
- Building of a MSM Advocacy Network.
Our project builds on the strong advocacy work of our partners GALZ and SRC to put LGBT people’s health issues on the political agenda and to provide rights-based health services. Their work is internationally supported by COC and MSMGF.
Other projects in Zimbabwe
Bridging the Gaps also has a sex workers project in Zimbabwe.