Regional East Africa Programme: Realising Rights-Accelerating change towards LGBT equality across East Africa

This regional programme (implemented in collaboration with LGBT-Denmark), supported by the Obel Foundation as well as Danida, started in 2014 in Tanzania and was expanded to Uganda in 2016. In the next programme phase the work will be expanded into Rwanda and Kenya. The long-term goal of the initiative is that the societies in East Africa are transformed and are accepting of sexual and gender diversity, and ensure equal rights for LGBT. The four programme objectives are 1) increased levels of self-efficacy, identity and self-acceptance among LGBT unleashing their potential to act in their own interests and those of others to address stigma and discrimination; 2) strengthening LGBT civil society organisations and allied organisations to promote human rights; 3) improving data, knowledge and evidence leading to positive narratives and attitudes about LGBT; and 4)  improved implementation of an efficient, effective and sustainable regional programme. A Mid Term Review conducted at the end of 2016 (enclosed),found the programme approach to be highly relevant and provided basis for reflection, learning and adjustments going forward. Through the LILO and counselling modalities, the project engaged directly with the experience of psychological distress and isolation. It exercised a bias in favour of trans and lesbian groups that are typically further marginalised within the LGBT sector, and challenged the hegemony of biomedical approaches to LGBT people from a purely public health perspective, placing emphasis and validation on identity and rights.  It also demonstrated innovation, where it developed a community-based, peer-driven counselling process for LGBT people, transferring a psychosocial support and self-awareness process across a country, driven through personal social networks at community level. It couples individual capacity-strengthening and formative development for LGBT people with institutional strengthening and organisational development support for LGBT organisations. The project also took a significant investment risk to work developmentally with low-capacity, emergent LGBT associations at community level, to strengthen the LGBT movement in Tanzania.