Gays Fight to Be Included in Anti-AIDS Campaigns
IRIN, January 12, 2005
fledgling gay movement is battling for recognition in the struggle against
HIV/AIDS and hopes to win its first ever government grant to assist
homosexuals living with the disease.
The problem is that homosexuality is illegal in devoutly
Muslim Senegal, and the MSM movement—the acronym stands for “Men who have
sex with men”—is asking for funds from the government-run National Council
to Fight AIDS (CNLS).
The five-year-old MSM movement claims to have 400 members
out of a population of 10 million.
Leaders of the group told IRIN they had applied to the
internationally funded CNLS for a CFA francs 36 million (US $73,000) grant to
finance a project to tackle AIDS in Senegal’s gay community and assist those
of its members who are already HIV positive.
Senegal has one of Africa’s lowest HIV prevalence rates, thanks in part to
efficient campaigning, testing and prevention encouraged by the government,
the gay community has been sidelined from AIDS programmes since homosexual sex
is technically a crime.
“We want to be able to train people and go to the homes
of people living with AIDS who are suffering and who often are not informed
about treatment,” said a leader of the MSM movement, who asked not to be
identified. “The situation is extremely serious within the community.”
The source said gays in Senegal who have come out in
public have been threatened and assaulted. They were particularly at risk from
AIDS, since many were ignorant about how the virus is transmitted, he added.
Because of the social stigma attached to homosexuality,
some members of the gay community live a double life as married men with
Senegal has received pledges of CFA francs 36.5 billion
(US $74 million) to fight HIV-AIDS in 2005 and 2006 from the World Bank, the
Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and other international
A CNLS official told IRIN that the project funding
request from the MSM movement had been received and would be considered in
March, along with a batch of other new community projects. “There are [the
lives of] thousands of MSMs at stake,” the official noted.
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