details

Groupe Hirondelles Bukavu (GHB), South Kivu

GHB is a registered NGO with the provincial government.

Location

Bukavu, South Kivu province
Bukavu, Uvira

Sectors of Intervention

Human rights; sexual and reproductive health and rights

History

In 2006, two lawyers in Bukavu unofficially started Groupe Hirondelles Bukavu to assistthe lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) population. Many people in DRC believethat heterosexuality is the norm, and that any deviations are imported from European or othercultures. Traditional beliefs and Christian views have caused widespread discrimination and evenviolence against LGBTI people in DRC. Even the many human rights groups active in South Kivuignored this reality. The founders of GHB investigated the LGBTI population and found that inaddition to suffering violations of their rights, this population was engaging in risky behavior becauseof its need for secrecy and general ignorance about methods of disease transmission. The foundersalso discovered that in DRC the laws on sexual orientation are not as extreme as in other Africancountries. For example, homosexuality is not considered illegal in DRC; however, GHB found thatmost arrests are made on account of “disturbing the peace” and causing a scene. GHB’s knowledge ofthe law has mitigated conflicts with the government, but some church groups oppose the existenceof GHB and try to convince GHB’s staff to give up their work. GHB’s governance bodies and staffinclude people from a variety of backgrounds, including nonhomosexuals. GHB has worked withinternational groups such as Global Rights and GiZ (formerly GTZ); in addition, it works with SOFIDE(a Congolese organization working on HIV/AIDS).

Mission

Fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and the manner in which people experiment with their gender, perceived or otherwise, and promote sexual rights and the right to sexual health

Objectives

  • Promote the well-being of LGBTI people in Bukavu
  • Mobilize the LGBTI community in Bukavu
  • Encourage human rights organizations to mainstream the issue of the rights of LGBTI people
  • Provide counseling and guidance to LGBTI people who are facing difficulties
  • Defend the rights of the LGBTI population

Populations Served

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people

Programs

  • Forums of exchange and debate on the realities of the lives of LGBTI people: GHB organizes meetings to provide a space for people to discuss and learn from each other the realities of life for a person who is LGBTI, and to promote better understanding between all people of different sexual orientation.
  • Monitoring against abuses: GHB researches cases of human rights violations, and takes one or more of three approaches: denunciation, initiation of judicial procedures, or community education. GHB has two human rights monitors who travel throughout Bukavu every week to meet with members of the LGBTI community and monitor rights abuses and community perceptions.
  • Raising awareness of HIV/AIDS and risky behavior among the LGBTI community: GHB organizes seminars and meetings with the LGBTI community to discuss issues of sexual health, STDs, and responsible sexual behavior.

Governance

The supreme governing body is the general assembly, which consists of 50 members,meets annually, and selects the board of directors. The board of directors has four members and developsstrategic plans and budgets, which are ratified by the board of directors. The general assemblyalso selects a control committee, which conducts an annual audit and other investigations. GHB has sixpermanent employees, including two lawyers and one medical student.

GHB has a bank account with ECOBANK in Bukavu. For financial, administrative, and personnelmanagement, GHB has:

  • A procedures manual with policies for financial management, hiring and personnel issues, and purchasing policies and procedures: YES
  • A computerized accounting system: NO
  • A clearly defined accounting process: YES
  • Clear procedures for management of payroll, petty cash, procurement, and disbursements: YES
  • Staff with the technical expertise to undertake projects: YES

Strengths

  • Run by lawyers
  • Increasing visibility and passage of time are slowly leading to community acceptance.
  • Unique in its work
  • Support from the international community

Needs

  • The creation of a network on sexual rights
  • More resources to train the community on the realities of people who are LGBTI
  • Opportunities for advocacy to defeat discriminatory laws
  • Increased resources to address the needs of people who are LGBTI

Funders and Budget

For 2010, GHB’s budget was $10,100. Funders include Global Rights and KIOS (The Finnish Organization for Human Rights).

Accomplishments

  • Recently extended its activities to the town of Uvira in South Kivu. Six people who are LGBTI organized themselves into a group under the label GHB and facilitated a forum of exchange and discussion on human rights and sexuality.
  • Made a major contribution to the mobilization of Congolese civil society against a proposed law to criminalize homosexuality in DRC
  • In 2010, monitored and followed through the documentation of 16 violations of human rights committed against people who are LGBTI

Organizational Vision

Create a world where all humans and their rights are respected.

Project Proposals

  • Community education about homosexuality: In part to oppose recently introduced national legislation that would ban homosexuality in DRC, GHB proposes organizing community meetings to educate the public about homosexuality; conducting specific informational sessions with local political, social, and religious leaders; and promoting its “ten reasons to not criminalize homosexuality in DRC” campaign. Cost: $30,000
  • Building institutional capacity: GHB seeks funds to sustain its activities, maintain its office, and train and support its staff, particularly its community liaisons. Cost: $25,000

Contact

Jean-Bedel Kaniki or Blaise Bayubasire, +243.998.858.181, +243.853.296.67, hirondelles. bukavu@gmail.com

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