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RWANDA - Anti-LGBT Arrests Increase as Elections Approach (2010, Alternate Link, Alternate Link): While Rwanda prepares for the upcoming presidential elections to be held in August this year, concerns are mounting regarding the future of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) as arbitrary arrests of these groups continue to swoop the country. - HOCA opens homosexuality debate in Rwanda (2010, Alternate Link, Alternate Link): A public admission by the Director of Horizon Community Association (HOCA), Naome Ruzindana, that homosexuality does exist in Rwanda has sparked controversy in that country, with public figures dubbing it an abomination that contradicts the Rwandan culture. In an interview with Izuba Rirashe a Rwandan newspaper, Ruzindana said they are ready to be visible and operate in an open space for society and the state to know their existence and to fight for their freedom and right to existence. “Its in this sense, we thought it was necessary for some of us to come out, I felt it was necessary to be out spoken about homosexuality, for people not to pretend that we do not exist”, said Ruzindana. “We are here to fight against the new penal code that is being debated upon to be put into law”, she added. Despite the emergence of movements that have began advocating for the rights of sexual minority groups, many people in Rwanda continue to deny the existence of homosexuality in the country. - Naome Ruzindana on Challenges LGBTI People Face in Rwanda and East Africa (2010).

HRBA and the rights of LGBT persons in Rwanda (2011): In November 2009, a draft revision on the Penal Code Act of Rwanda was tabled in the Parliament of Rwanda.  Article 217 of the draft act would introduce the criminalization of consensual same-sex acts and relationships as well as criminalizing the work of LGBT human rights defenders. However, the article was dismissed after he Minister of Justice Tharcisse Karugarama condemned and refuted international reports that the Government intended to criminalize homosexual acts, saying that sexual orientation is a private matter not a state business. Regardless of this, many LGBT persons in the country have been arbitrarily detained by the police, or have been denied their rights by the authorities because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The examples below illustrate the level of discrimination and on-going rights violations that LGBT individuals within Rwanda face. Arrests, trial and sentencing of individuals accused of crimes, are commonplace for LGBT persons. As a result, LGBT persons live in legitimate fear of harassment and human rights violations by the police, government authorities, and individuals in their communities.

Rwanda To Vote on Criminalizing Homosexuality Wednesday (2009). - Stop Rwanda's proposals to criminalise homosexuality (2009).- New Law Criminalizing Same-Sex Conduct Proposed in Rwanda (2007): Rwanda is moving to abolish the death penalty, mainly so that it may take custody of the overflow of Genocide-detainees whom the ICTR will be unable to prosecute before the expiration of its mandate. This is a positive and progressive move. Unfortunately, the opportunity is being used to introduce some new, equally oppressive legislation—particularly the criminalization for consensual same-sex acts, which had never been a crime in Rwanda, and heightened penalties for abortion... Rwanda has offered a strong response to AIDS and has been successful at stabilizing HIV transmission rates in the country. Criminalizing homosexuality will only hamper its efforts to fight HIV, by driving same-sex practicing Rwandese underground and making them even more afraid to discuss their sexual behavior with medical personnel, counselors, their husbands, wives and non-marital partners. - New Law Criminalizing Same-Sex Conduct Proposed (2007). - Nouvelle proposition de loi criminalisant les pratiques homosexuelles (2007)Translation) (Alternate Link) (Translation).

Lesbian study on lived realities of same sex women in Rwanda (2010): The Research was carried out in Gasabo district of the Central province of Rwanda. The Focus was on Lived Realities of Open Lesbians living in Kigali. The study was therefore limited to only Kigali by Horizon Community Association because it was an initiative to recognize the Problems faced by Lesbians after the several attacks, arrests and arbitrary that has been in Rwanda since 2004... Interviews where conducted by one on one questioner method from different persons located in different areas of Rwanda below are their responses and a number of issues affecting the Lesbians community in Rwanda... Members have suffered from homophobic related physical injuries, mental health illness, and HIV /AIDS which requires special attention. Many members have a very negative attitude towards life. During the interview, members were traumatized, heart broken and requested for ways to be integrated to the Rwandan society and needed some psycho social support from the Organization ( Hoca)... Horizon Community Association has done a lot of Advocacy and Networking for the past years. Because of continued injustices that has happened to members, we decided to come out through Advocacy, and document our lived realities with testimonies, and this has helped us gain strong and supportive network within Rwanda... [Full Interviews Available.] - Naome-Buzindana (2010). Lesbian Study on Lived Realities of Same Sex Women in Rwanda. Kigali, Rwanda: Horizon Community Association (HOCA). PDF Download. Download Page: Horizon Community Association (HOCA).

New HIV awareness drive targets prisoners (2010): "We have adopted new measures of sensitizing people in correctional facilities as high-risk sexual behaviour in Rwandan prisons seems to be a major contributing factor to the increase in the spread of HIV," said Anita Asiimwe, executive secretary of the National AIDS Control Commission, CNLS. The new strategy will use peer educators to teach prisoners about HIV; they will also encourage prisoners to attend voluntary counselling and testing for HIV so that those who are already HIV-positive can access treatment... "Prison grounds offer ideal conditions for the transmission of HIV, especially through homosexuality," Dative Mukanyangezi, director-general of Kigali Central Prison - where 16.5 percent of imprisoned women and 15 percent of male prisoners were HIV-positive, according to 2006 data - told IRIN/PlusNews. She noted that practices such as intravenous drug use and the sharing of non-sterile sharp instruments for tattooing were widespread in Rwanda's prisons. According to a 2009 study by the Ministry of Health and its partners, prisoners in Kigali's Kimironko Prison reported having sex with sex workers, girlfriends and wives while out of prison on work detail.

Truth On Homosexuality In Rwanda (2009): The author of this article had an opportunity to meet and converse with a few LGBT (acronym that labels lesbians, gay, bisexuals and transsexuals) in Rwanda. In their testimony, most of them declare that when their families realized that they were born homosexuals (meaning men whose feelings and sexual attraction can be considered similar to those of women) and lesbians (meaning women whose feelings and sexual attraction can be considered similar to those of men), they were rejected from their homes, disrespected, and that their neighbors, friends and government institutions made difficult for them... However, even though these some of them encounter those problems, homosexuals are found in all levels of society, as those we talked to informed us: in high levels of national leadership, in the military leadership, among powerful investors and business people, among people’s representatives, and they do not wish to be revealed ( some have families, i.e. wives and children ), born with such sexual nature although they still can have children. Among those we talked to, some have friends among such personalities, but they cannot reveal the identity of those personalities because these have asked them not to put them at jeopardy while they depend on those personalities. 

Advocacy for HIV/AIDS prevention in / from Rwanda'a prisons (2005): It is reliably known that these prisoners engage in un protected penetrative sex either heterosexually or homosexually, even though this is prohibited. Since homosexuality is taboo in Rwanda, there has been no justification to distribute condoms in Prisons. Hence, Rwanda’s prisons may have become a breeding ground for HIV... Once permission is granted by Government Authorities to operate in Prisons, it is necessary to ensure the cooperation of Prisons Administrators, hence the need to mobilise them into cooperating with HIV prevention services in Prisons. Lastly the Prisons inmates themselves will be sensitised to adopt HIV preventive strategies.- Guarding against HIV in prisons (2006): Kigali Central Prison (KCP), in the capital of Rwanda, has the nation's highest number of HIV-positive prisoners... HIV-positive inmates say they were infected before they were jailed because Rwanda's prison regulations do not allow conjugal visits. "Due to a lack of choice, some men look to other men for what they should have received from their wives or other women," said prisoner Jean-Bosco Habiyambere. "Basically, men sleep with men." ... Rwanda does not provide prisoners with condoms, but Gasatura acknowledged that "if you suspect there are sexual practices going on, then it would only be wise to provide them [inmates] with condoms".

Do Rwanda's prisons spread AIDS? (2004, Must Scroll) Controversy surrounds the issue of HIV/AIDS in prison. While some prisoners are already infected before they are detained, others get it during their time in prison. The question is how? “Some times it is through sex with female prison guards. But usually it is through homosexuality. This happens a lot. Men are not afraid of sleeping with other men”, Uwitonda Charles an ex-prisoner disclosed. Medical personnel and some prison officials agree that homosexual acts are spreading HIV infection in Rwanda 's jails. But two problems make this even worse. First, they are not allowed to distribute free condoms, because that would be endorsing homosexual acts. Second, prisoners are often reluctant to discuss this issue openly...  “Some boys don't even get enough food to eat. So, often older prisoners use food, money or influence, to lure them into sex”, Uwitonda revealed.... According to Antoinette, there is no distribution of condoms in prisons. “No we can't do that because then we would be legalising the practice. All we can do is carry out daily sensitization sessions on HIV/AIDS, to try and change their behaviour”, Mukashema indicated... - HIV/AIDS prevention in Rwanda's prisons N/A: Although sex is officially prohibited in the country’s prisons, most inmates are thought to engage in regular unprotected sex with other prisoners. Taboos surrounding homosexuality and men having sex with men are an enormous challenge – both in terms of policy and programme implementation... The project's main aim was to raise the inmates’ awareness of HIV transmission and how to prevent infection. A key objective was to see up to 50 per cent of inmates using condoms by the end of the project.

Liberal' 'Satanic behavior' (2007, Must Scroll, Alternate Link): RWANDA will not be bullied into compromising its position on gay bishops and blessings, the Bishop of Shyira, John Rucyahana,told the state radio service last week... It is the Americans who have “abandoned the faith, the law and doctrine of the church. They also do not believe in the teachings of the Bible”, Bishop Rucyahana said on Aug 14 to a nationwide radio audience. The liberal western churches ‘do not conform to the religious conduct of the Anglican church’ because it is they who have “ordained homosexuals as bishops not Africans.” - African bishops ready to boycott conference in row over gay clergy (2007). - Church of Rwanda boycotts lambasts conference (2007): The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda says its members will not attend the Lambeth Conference next year in England, as divisions over the Bible and homosexuality threaten to split the world Anglican Communion.

Rwandan gay and lesbian people are short-changed due to a repressive environment: (2005, Alternate Link) "In my country there are a lot of gay people, but they have to live in hiding and they can't come out to embrace their sexual orientation, because they are afraid of rejection by their families, friends and the society. Being queer in my country is not an easy life. People call you names and, until now, there is no NGO or organization that supports the rights of gays in Rwanda." Eric is very knowledgeable about the law. He said that the constitution doesn't say anything about whether it is illegal to be gay. "Many gays leave the country and go to Europe or America, where they will be far from their families and where they can feel free...

Sexual Activity Among Street Children in Kigali: "The incidence of rape was found to be high: 63 percent of the boys reported having forced a girl to have sex with them, while 93 percent of the girls reported having been forced by either a boy or man. All the sexually active girls and 91 percent of the sexually active boys reported knowing someone who had been raped... A total of 12.6 percent of the boys and 14.8 percent of the girls reported having engaged in homosexual relations..." - The tough life of being a transvestite in gay-hating Rwanda (2003, Alternate Link): In many African societies, homosexuality is seen as a devilish aberration. If possible, transvestites are regarded as even worse. Whereas in Britain she might be accepted as a transsexual, in Africa Tamara - not her real name - betrays her secret only to friends and lovers. Carelessness has a cost: being hounded down dark streets, stripped, shaved, beaten and jailed.

Exploring HIV Risk among MSM in Kigali, Rwanda (2009, PDF Download). This report presents findings from a behavioral surveillance study (BSS) of men who have sex with men (MSM) in Kigali carried out in 2008-2009. The aim of this study was to describe the population of MSM in Kigali and explore the nature of sexual activity between MSM... Ninety-eight (98) MSM aged 18 to 52 years, participated in the study.. This study has provided introductory data as a first step to shaping the HIV response for MSM. However, much information is still lacking. We suggest that further research is urgently needed to assess HIV/other STI prevalence among MSM. We also recommend further research into MSM sexual networks (i.e., commercial and transactional sex, sex with women, sex and travel). The results of this exploratory study suggest MSM in Kigali are at elevated risk for HIV infection comparedto the general population, and require specific HIV/STI prevention services/support.

Resources: - Behind the Mask - A Web Site on Gay and Lesbian Affairs in Africa. - Africa by Country: Rwanda. Rwanda Archive. - African Veil: Countries Covered: Rwanda. - Queer afrol. - Afrol News; Gay/Lesbian Archives. - news & Articles: Africa. Horizon Community Association (HOCA).

Global Gayz: Africa: Rwanda News Reports From 2003 to the Present. - ILGA: Africa: Rwanda. - LGBT rights in Rwanda. - Sodomy Laws. - Human Rights Watch: Use Search Function. - Amnesty International: Use Search Function. - Pink News: Europe's Largest Gay News Service: Africa. - AsylumLaw.Org: Sexual Minorities & HIV Status: Documents / Reports / Website Links / Organizations. Rwanda Individual Documents since 2000.  - Links to News Sources for GLBT World.

MSMGF News Articles & Documents Resources. By Region & Country:  - Sub-Saharan Africa: - Rwanda.

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