On Friday June 14, 2019 the GALZ Mutare Drop-In-Centre (DIC) welcomed 70 Members of Parliament from various portfolios including the portfolio committee on HIV and AIDS, Justice, Gender and Community development and several parliament support staff, for a dialogue. Other stakeholders at the dialogue included UNAIDS, NAC, UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCO, 17 GALZ community members and 6 GALZ staff. The Parliamentarians, who were attending a Capacity Building Workshop held at Holiday Inn Mutare, toured various institutions among them, the GALZ Mutare DIC, CeSHHAR’s mobile clinic and the Mutare Prison Unit.
The dialogue was prompted by the commitment made by the Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) to end HIV/AIDS by 2030, making sure no one is left behind in the 90-90-90 targets. GALZ participated in the Global Fund consultative process through the Country Coordinating Machanism (CCM). This led to the National AIDS Council (NAC) being awarded the sub-recipient status of the Global Fund grant cycle 2018 – 2020 for Key Populations (KPs). NAC was active in the establishment of the Drop in Centres managed by GALZ in Masvingo and Mutare.
Issues discussed during the tour of the DIC included access to health services, legal barriers to justice as well as sharing of lived experiences from LGBTI community members, in coming out, dealing with family and society, religion and culture.
‘I am gay. As a young boy I realised I was attracted to other men. I told my mother I was gay and she took me to her Parish Priest who prayed for me. But, up to today, I am still gay. At college I contemplated committing suicide after I realized that he didn’t have anyone who tolerated me. My mother eventually accepted me and has been my support system since.’ – Community member.
This came after one of the MPs asked how society especially the present participants’ parents were coping with issues of understanding their sexuality. GALZ highlighted the PFLAG support group which was created for Parents and Friends of Gays And Lesbians.