AMSHeR10 – Open Up Celebrations!
One of the main highlights in preparing an AMSHeR Progress Report had to be our 10th Anniversary. That’s 10 eventful years of promoting non-discrimination for MSM/LGBT individuals, building partnerships and achieving our mission of a healthy and empowered LGBT community in Africa. May this landmark occasion introduce an exciting new chapter of strengthening our leadership and, especially, celebrating the great contributions of our 18 members across 15 African countries, as well as our global partners.
What a wonderful journey it has been!
Founded in 2009 by our founding pioneer, Joël Gustave Nana Ngongang, African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) came to be as a coalition of HIV and human rights organisasions sharing a vision of an empowered and healthy life for African men who have sex with men, with human rights for all.
As early as 2005, during the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), people interested in building a coalition started an email Listserv through which they could keep in touch and share information. The coalition started to take shape through discussions between the Global HIV and AIDS Programme Adviser at Oxfam GB and individuals such as the Director of the Centre for Popular Education and Human Rights (CEPEHRG), an organisation working for LGBTI rights in Ghana. Enthusiastic responses from members of the email Listserv confirmed the appetite for a coalition. The idea also received support from Oxfam Novib, who at the time was the largest contributor to LGBTI issues among Oxfam affiliates, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) based in Cape Town.
During the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City (August 2008), the Oxfam GB Programme Adviser, Director of CEPEHRG and the HIV Officer from IGLHRC stood outside a forum on MSM to ‘collect’ African activists who agreed on the need to formally establish a coalition. Donor representatives from amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research) and UNDP who happened to be walking by during the discussion expressed their willingness to see proposals for such a coalition. Encouraged by this, a member of Sexual Minorities Uganda drafted the first concept note of the pan African network of MSM and HIV organisations, which later became known as AMSHeR.
Celebrating 10 years of advocacy and leadership and successfully implementing the organisation’s strategic mandate, AMSHeR today continues its commitment to promoting the health and rights of LGBT across the continent.