Sunday, 21 February 2010

Swaziland: ‘Gays turned back in clinics’

Map of SwazilandImage via Wikipedia
Source: Times of Swaziland - Feb 17

By Sibongile Sukati

EZULWINI — Homo-sexual people in the country have alleged that they are turned back at local hospitals when they seek treatment.

The gay community further said there was a high HIV infection rate amongst them, but due to the lack of treatment they would soon die.

This shocking revelation was made by Jimmy James Lotter of the Gay Lesbian Association of Swaziland Against HIV/AIDS to the visiting UNAIDS Executive Director and UN Under Secretary General Michel Sidibe.

Lotter made this revelation at the Royal Swazi Convention Centre when Sidibe met with the Civil Society Representatives.

Lotter told Sidibe that discrimination against same sex couples in Swaziland was so rife that they were often told that they would not be treated because of their sexual orientation.

During the open discussion Lotter said government further did not provide ‘same sex condoms’ adding that there was no programme in the country that considered the lifestyles and treatment of infected gay people.

The same sex condoms are said to be thicker than normal condoms.

“Our prevention programmes are also lacking because no one wants to pay attention to the gay community,” he said. He said it was important that the lives of HIV infected gay people be improved.

Sidibe said UNAIDS still had a lot of work to do especially in Africa on issues of marginalised groups such as homosexuals.

Sidibe said in Africa same sex relationships were frowned upon and as a result one found that people were leading double lives just to avoid stigmatisation.

He made an example of China where he said a few years ago about a 35 per cent HIV infection was discovered on men on men partners.

“In one instance they would act as if they were heterosexuals yet they lived double lives,” he said.

As a result Sidibe said the Chinese government had tackled the matter head on and stopped criminalising such activities.

“We can never achieve zero HIV infection rate if some members of society continued to be marginalised,” he said.  Sidibe said the fight against the pandemic could never be won if some people in society were continuously being treated as outcasts.

Also in attendance were HIV activists’ organisations such as Swaziland Positive Living (SWAPOL), Swaziland Aids Support Organisation (SASO) and Swaziland Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (SWANEPHA).
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