Positive Vibes (PV) works with LGBT+ and sex worker organisations and coalitions to influence programming and engage in effective advocacy at multiple levels. Mechanisms such as REAct: Rights, Evidence, Action—a community-based human rights monitoring tool—support this goal by helping improve data collection to build a strong evidence base of human rights violations, which in turn, better inform local, national and regional programming interventions and advocacy initiatives.
The criminalisation of same-sex, sexual conduct in the countries REAct is implemented in fosters a climate of state-sanctioned homophobia, resulting in abuse, discrimination and violence against LGBT+ and sex worker communities. Maintenance of these laws is itself a human rights violation, and enables further violations because of the stigma and culture of impunity these laws create. Criminalisation violates the rights to: privacy; equality before the law and equal protection of the law; non-discrimination; and dignity. It also engages the rights to: freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment; freedom of expression, assembly and association; freedom from arbitrary detention; health and other economic and social rights; and freedom from persecution.
To respond to these challenges, PV works through partner organisations to deliver and manage REAct, a secure, IT-based (using MARTUS), human rights monitoring and response system owned and managed locally by REActors. The system helps respond to human rights barriers to accessing HIV services by collecting evidence to identify and provide or refer for individual emergency support and human rights-based HIV programmes. REAct can also help extend and improve the efficacy of organisations’ human rights programmes including legal services, ‘know your rights’ initiatives, engagement with law enforcement officers and public healthcare officials, advocacy, programmes to address gender-based violence, gender inequality and harmful gender norms, and reduce stigma and discrimination. Above and beyond the data collection and support processes, each country hosts a REAct Committee, who convene quarterly to analyse and discuss the cases reported and make decisions on programmes and advocacy initiatives to best respond to the problems faced by their communities.
Zambia: planned actions include partnering with key stakeholders to facilitate dialogues with healthcare workers and lawyers; engage regional police commissioners; initiate rapid response initiatives to mitigate the current wave of homophobic and transphobic media scandalising and unethical reporting in the country, and monitoring what is happening via other organisations to ensure complementarity of support programming.
Lesotho: actions include advocacy in the form of public gatherings and sensitisation workshops for the community, healthcare workers and police. • Malawi: strategies are being devised to better manage the emergency response fund and hold quarterly ‘talking sessions’ to encourage more community members to come forward and report cases.
Zimbabwe: actions include a contextual analysis, better utilising WhatsApp to share information about human rights violations, and create dialogue within communities and organisations; engaging LGBT+ organisations for input from their own human rights violation monitoring to get a better picture of what is happening at the national; mapping of referral lists across the country to coordinate responses and increase efficacy; and better disseminate information and analysis coming from the REAct database and the Committees to encourage more referrals and engagement with REAct.