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EuroPride 2015 will take place on (officially homophobic) Russia’s doorstep!

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EuroPride - one of Europe’s main, annual LGBT events, inaugurated in London in 1992, will be hosted this year by the city of Riga in Latvia and will coincide with the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. This EuroPride marks a historic occasion as it is the first EuroPride to be held in a post-Soviet country on the EU’s Eastern border with Russia. The Latvian capital, Riga is located only 300 km from the Russian border. EuroPrideThe local increase in tension, resulting from the Ukraine crisis, is very evident in the Baltic States. We're seeing a massive military build-up in the Baltic states as NATO launched one of its largest-ever military manoeuvres last June in the three Baltic states and the United States recently started deploying a 3,000 strong infantry unit in the Baltics, with over 100 armed vehicles. The NATO forces will hold a three-month exercise with the local armies in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
EuroPride in Riga is of huge importance not only for Latvia but for the entire region, including the post-Soviet countries, where freedom of speech and assembly are under attack every day. The Russian LGBT propaganda law (also known as the gay propaganda law or the anti-gay law refers to a Russian federal law "for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values" was unanimously approved by the State Duma in June 2013.

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HATE CRIMES THREATEN EVERYONE

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The Hate Crimes Working Group and Peace Action, are concerned about the growing climate of violence in South Africa. The frequent and vicious outbreaks of xenophobic violence, violence against women and violence against the LGBTQI community, to name a few, are threatening the security of all who live in South Africa.HR

The increasing levels of intolerance and anger, expressed violently, have a devastating impact on those who are most vulnerable and marginalised in society - such as women, children, LGBTQI, foreigners and the destitute. The repeated xenophobic attacks during the past decade against refugees and other non-South Africans are adding to a culture of intolerance and resulting in violence, pain and suffering for victims of this violence. The government has failed to adequately respond to these incidents and do the work necessary to prevent continued incidences of xenophobic violence,
and to create a safe environment for non-South Africans living in South Africa.

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Anova Health Institute heralds new era in HIV prevention

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The Anova Health Institute, the lead organisation addressing HIV among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in South Africa, welcomes the announcement of exciting developments regarding HIV prevention at the 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. The conference is currently taking place in Seattle, Washington.

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Researchers have confirmed the results of an earlier randomised trial and presented unequivocal evidence that the use of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) can be used as a reliable biomedical HIV prevention strategy by MSM when taken in advance of potential exposure to the virus. Referred to as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), such use of specific ARVs allows men to use chronic medication to prevent becoming HIV positive.

The findings relate specifically to MSM following the early completion of two studies, in France and England respectively, that provide dramatic proof of the efficacy of PrEP among the key population. In both of these studies, men were protected against HIV infection while taking the drugs, with a reduction in risk of over 80%. Significantly, the studies also demonstrated that men, who requested access to PrEP, were able to manage the treatment successfully, including necessary adherence.

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The Reality Of Being Gay In South Africa

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Despite having some of the most progressive LGBT legislation in the world, the everyday life of South Africa's gay community is still rife with prejudice."


South Africa promotes itself on various tourism websites as the only LGBT-friendly country in Africa. Whilst this may be technically correct on a legislation level, the reality is really quite different. It is true that major cities, such as Cape Town and Johannesburg, do have thriving gay communities while multinational South African companies also employ some LGBT employees. However, outside of these international hubs, the everyday life of gay people within South Africa is still rife with abuse, prejudice and judgement.

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Appearances can be deceptive

This is not the first time that the South African government has promoted liberal laws while undermining them through its actions and comments. For example, the government took a moralistic stance on online gambling within South Africa, refusing to legalise its use within the country. This was despite South African online casinos – which you can read a history of at  http://www.gamblingafrica.com/indepth/history-of-online-casino-gambling.asp becoming massively popular within the online gambling sector. The government's refusal to allow this casinos online sector access to the domestic market, whilst benefiting from its economic contributions and racking up huge expenses in discussing the issue, was seen as hypocritical by some commentators. Similarly, with regards to the LGBT community, president Jacob Zuma commented in the past that same-sex marriage was a disgrace to the nation and to God, despite supposedly representing a country supportive of its gay citizens.

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Elton John supports local gay men to combat HIV

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A new $7 million grant for the Anova Health Institute's Health4Men project to address HIV in South Africa's gay, bisexual and MSM (men who have sex with men) community has been announced in both Washington and Johannesburg. This significant international funding boost to expand MSM-targeted HIV-related services in South Africa is the result of a new partnership between the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

 

In Washington, Sir Elton John and American Secretary of State, John Kerry, announced the collaboration between the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and the U.S President's Emergency Fund for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) to support initiatives focusing on MSM in South Africa.

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