Monday, December 10, 2012

International Human Rights Day 2012: Inclusion and Participation

For Immediate Press Release
10th December 2012,
Statement on the International Human Rights Day

The year I948 saw the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights by the United Nations, just immediately after the end of the World War II. Since 1950, the International Human Rights Day has been marked to show solidarity for the human rights of all persons.

Fifty-two years after independence and a decade, three years after the return to democracy, Nigeria as a country is yet to come to the realization of the potentials of what human rights respect and recognition can do in moving forward our development agenda. Human Rights they say are inalienable rights that are entitled to every human being irrespective of sex, gender, race, religion, tribe and other status.

Since 2006, there have been propositions from the corridors of power to criminalize the identities and behaviour of a small section of the population. Queer Alliance uses this day to call the attention of all Nigerians to human rights issues, especially those which are deemed controversial and with push for penalization and criminalization from religious quarters on issues do not conform to hetero-normativity. We, therefore as an organization stand in the gap for those that we represent and serve, to call for the respect and recognition or rights in the context of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Nigeria is signatory to various international covenants and treaties that protect from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Notable amongst these treaties are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Convention on the Elimination of Violence against Women, Covenant against Torture, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. With the exception of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, every other covenant signed and ratified by the government of Nigeria in accordance with international jurisprudence protects from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Just recently, the United Nations also voted to give protection on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity in matters of extra-judicial killings.

Chapter IV of our constitution provides for the basic human rights of all Nigerians. Some of these are the rights to the dignity of the human person, health, security, privacy. It also enshrines the right from discrimination on the grounds of sex. As a member of the international community, sex has been interpreted in international law to be inclusive of sexual orientation. This is evident in the case of Tonen vs. Australia. It may not be explicitly stated in our constitution but in accordance with international laws and treaties which our country had ratified, it would mean that our constitution indirectly protects from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

As a secular country with a democratic system of governance, Queer Alliance reminds government that religious intonation into proposed legislations and rights issues is a sure sign of derail from the guiding principles of democracy. A denial of rights to any one group is a denial of rights to the majority. As the taunted giant of Africa, we must move to rightfully claim that national identity as the giant of Africa and a country to be reckoned with when it comes to promoting and protecting the rights of the ordinary man on the streets. This means that there must be no separation or distinction as to which rights must be protected under the laws of our nations. Only criminal behaviour and identities that seeks to or inflict harm on others, deny any person or group of persons their fundamental human rights need be made illegal and criminal. The case is not so for persons who continue to suffer stigma, discrimination and violence on the grounds of the sexual orientation and gender identity; which in no way inflict harm on anyone neither deny rights to any person or group of persons.

There is far no time for now for participatory democracy and an all-inclusive society devoid of discrimination than now. Sexual minorities’ need be supported to contribute their quota to national development. This we have done even with existing legislation that criminalizes us. Our community abounds with skills and talent, if which recognized can stimulate growth in some, if not all sectors of the nation’s economy for the benefit of all Nigerians. 

We call on all citizens of this country, home and abroad to call on the government to be accountable for the human rights of everyone that lives on the Nigerian soil. The respect and recognition of the rights of everyone is at the sole of the development that we all yearn for as individuals and as a nation. For instance we all need to call on the government to pay attention to the right to health by improving healthcare delivery throughout the country. Call on the government to pay attention to the spate of the bad roads in our country as part of our right to safety and movement. The list is inexhaustible.

Queer Alliance therefore uses today, the International Day on Human Rights to call the attention of the government, legislators and policy makers and civil societies organizations to shun the proposed bill to criminalize sexual minorities of this country on the notion of Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill. There are no evidence of gay marriages in this country, thus the need to criminalize sexual minorities is unwarranted. It is not the needed change that the Nigerian masses want to see.

As sexual minorities our vision for this country is not of a homosexual agenda but a country free of corruption and bad leadership. A country where the very poor can access healthcare without impediments; a country with good road network; a country where premium is placed on education, a country where unemployment is brought to the barest minimum, a country where violence is criminalized in all its form, regardless of who the victim of the violence is; a country safe and secure for all citizens no matter their religion, belief or faith. We want to see a country where everyone can get involved in the building of the nation in a supportive, creative, dynamic and encouraging atmosphere. This we believe starts with the respect and recognition of the fundamental human rights of citizens.

Long Live Human Rights.

In solidarity,
Peace and Progress, Unity and Faith for the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Statement against the Second Reading and Passage of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2011

For Immediate Press Release

Queer Alliance issues this statement on behalf of those we represent to present and voice our concerns against the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2011.
We like to note that the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is built on one principle- Secularism and not religious indoctrination. The contents of the bill as amended over time are an assault on the lives and rights of sexual minorities and all Nigerians with strong religious overtone. The becoming of law of this bill is of grave consequences to our nation, as we recently witnessed the mob killing of four men in Port Harcourt. This could extend to killings and mob actions on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

At this point in the history of our country, it is important to note that we are going through a period in which the decisive support for the rule of law, principles of freedom, artistic and intellectual expression, association, religious liberty, dignity of the Human Person, freedom from discrimination of all sorts, fight against corruption and violence, an open society and the respect, protection and fulfillment of the rights of all Nigerians have become an absolute necessity. 

We, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people are not the problem of this nation. There are many other issues of national concern that needs to be concentrated on rather than the debate of incarcerating innocent citizens simply because of a dilemma they cannot overcome.  Sexuality is God’s gift to humankind and homosexuality is a natural, abiding, normal sexuality for some people.  It existed within the shores of our nation before colonial invasion and its subsequent criminalization.

As citizens of the this country, we remind the government and our lawmakers that the private lives of citizens are not grounds for debates and criminal legislation – save this private affairs and lives inflict harm on other people and infringes on the fundamental human rights accorded to every Nigerian as captioned and protected under Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution.

The connections between discriminatory and repressive laws and attitudes of people have meant that violence on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity will increase with the passage of the bill. No one is calling attention to these crimes. The institutionalization of homophobia by the state- which is the hallmark of this bill contradicts the Constitution, especially the clause on the right to the human dignity, life and security, peaceful assembly and association amongst other rights enshrined in the 199 constitution.

From all indications this bill is filled with hatred and will incite violence towards an indefensible group of people already marginalized by the society, its laws and policies. Existing provisions of the Criminal Code, Section 214, 215 and 217 has promoted hatred, intolerance and homophobia in the society. It should not be sponsored by the government of ant democratic society any further. Additional punitive legislation will not solve the issues; rather violence will increase towards a group of indefensible people, slighted by the laws of their own nation. This is very evident in the torture of four female students in one of the university in the south-south geopolitical zone of the country on the grounds of lesbianism. Innua Yakubu was murdered by his own classmates in 2002 in Jigawa on grounds of his sexual orientation.

As a community of innocent and law abiding citizen, we distance ourselves from this notion of Same Sex Marriages that has saturated our airwaves since 2006.  Our cry is that of respect, tolerance, acceptance and equality.
Nigeria is a signatory to International laws and Covenants that protects from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. We therefore, urge you to use your esteemed offices in protecting the rights of every Nigeria by shunning this bill which tendency to inciting violence is high if passed into law. Nigeria needs live up to the expectations and standards as a member of the United Nations.

We strongly advocate that bills such as the Elimination of Violence in the society which will give protection both to the rich and poor, strong and vulnerable – everyone living on the Nigerian soil be passed into law. And that bills with the potential to fuel hatred, violence and intolerance towards a particular population be shunned and reject by your esteemed offices.

Queer Alliance calls on you and indeed every Nigerian to lend a voice and a hand in the support for equality for all Nigerians regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. And that in times like this, Nigerian can live up to the hallmarks of her national anthem: to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.

Queer Alliance Nigeria

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Queer Alliance Nigeria
With technical support from
Queer African Youth Networking Center
And financial support of

 The Helping Ourselves Together (HOT) Project
Peer Educators Training Program
24th to 26th February 2012

The Integrated Biological Behavioural Survey Surveillance (2007) conducted by the Federal Ministry of Health and its partners estimated the prevalence rate of HIV amongst men who have sex with to be 13.5%. Today the prevalence rate of HIV amongst men who have sex with men is put at 17.2%, (IBBS 2010). These figures are alarming and jeopardize the progress that Nigeria has made in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Discriminatory and repressive laws as found in the statues book of Nigeria, albeit a constitution that protects the basic rights of all citizens, even if not explicit on sexual orientation and gender identity, stigmatizing attitudes of society and  health care workers in HIV service provision continues to be the backbone for the continued increase. Furthermore, government quest to further penalize sexual minorities, most especially gays, bisexuals and men who have with other men since 2006 continues to contribute to the upsurge in the prevalence rate. This has also led to several communities of men who have sex with men disenfranchised from service provision in HIV prevention, treatment, and support services.  

Since inception in 2009, Queer Alliance has worked to provide the needed interventions as to the HIV and sexual health needs of sexual minorities, especially for young men who have sex with men and also address human rights abuse and violation based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Since 2008, Queer Alliance worked from Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria. After a strategic meeting of the organization and sexual minorities’ census conducted in collaboration with the Queer African Youth Networking Center, Queer Alliance’s felt the need to move to the inner cities of Nigeria to address the needs of sexual minorities, most especially men who have sex with men in the South-South geopolitical zone of Nigeria.

By funding the HOT Project, MTV Staying Alive Foundation through Queer Alliance is responding to the HIV and sexual health challenges of the MSM communities in the South-South geopolitical zone of Nigeria, starting from Delta State.


The aims and objectives of the Helping Ourselves Together Project are:
v  To increase knowledge of 300 young MSM aged 18-29 in Delta and Anambra states with comprehensive HIV prevention information and services by December 2012 through peer leadership in learning circles.
v  To enhance knowledge of 20 health care workers and HIV counselors with knowledge in issues of sexuality, HIV and rights in selected HIV service facilities in Delta and Anambra states. This is to address the gap in service provision, discrimination and stigma of health care workers and HIV counselors towards MSM.
v  To use information, education, communication (IEC) and mobile telecommunications strategies in the dissemination of HIV prevention messages to MSM in Delta and Anambra States.
v  To distribute 7,000 pieces of condoms/lubricants to MSM in Delta and Anambra States in Nigeria.

From 24th to the 26th February, Queer Alliance trained 15 MSM in issues of HIV Prevention, Treatment and Support Services and to act as peer educators within the gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men community. The training session was opened by the Executive Director of Queer Alliance with the introduction of Queer Alliance as an organization and its partner organization; Queer African Youth Networking Center and MTV Staying Alive Foundation.
Participants were taken through what the aims and objectives of the HOT Project. Expectations from the training program were collated from the participants. Some of these were:
·         To learn more about HIV and how to prevent being infected
·         To be able to educate my peers on HIV prevention from the knowledge gained.
The participants were taken through an intensive training that covered the following topics: Introduction to Peer Leadership and Education, Sexuality and Human Rights, HIV/AIDS/STIs, Safer Sex, Managing HIV and Interpersonal and Communication skills. The training session started by administering a Pre-test questionnaire to test the level of knowledge of the participants. The questions were:
1.       What do you understand by the terms (a) Peer Leadership and Education (b) Peer Educator
2.       In your opinion who do you think a Peer Educator is?
3.       Define the following terms: (a.) Gender (b) Gender Identity(c) Sexual Orientation
4.       What do you understand by the term ‘Human Rights’?
5.       Define following terms (a) HIV (b) AIDS (c.) STI
6.       Give four modes of transmission of HIV and three examples of an STI.
7.       How do you think you can prevent HIV/AIDS?
8.       What do you understand by the term HIV re-infection?
9.       Explain in your own words what you understand by the term Stigma and Discrimination?
10.   Why is Voluntary Testing and Counseling important?
11.   What do you understand by the term Record Keeping? What is the importance of this in Peer Education
12.   What do you understand by the term Communication and Interpersonal Skills?
13.   Is there any relationship between peer education and communication? Underline please.  If yes, please explain.

The session started with pre-test questions testing the knowledge of the recruited peer educators on issues of HIV prevention, treatment and care alongside basic human rights issues.  The first module of the training Introduction to Peer Education and Leadership was facilitated by the Monitoring and Evaluation Program Officer of the Heartland Alliance Nigeria office in Lagos. Participants were asked who they would describe as a “peer”. Participants describe their peers as persons who belong to their age group. The facilitator gave an outline definition of who a peer is and other terminologies as enumerated below:

·         A peer refers to person/group that belongs to the same social group as another person or group. The social group may be based on age, sex, sexual orientation, occupation, social group or status, health status or other factors.
·         Education refers to the development of a person’s knowledge, attitudes, beliefs or behavior, as a result of the learning process.
·         Peer education is the transfer of knowledge and skills to members of a social group by others within the same group.
·         HIV Peer Educators are people who are themselves enrolled in HIV prevention, care and/or treatment services; have a good understanding of HIV, care, treatment, PMTCT and adherence;
and have the skills to help other clients with their care and treatment. Usually, Peer Educators are volunteers.

Furthermore the facilitator enumerated on the benefits of being a peer educator. He stated to the
Participants that being a peer educator should not be seen as a waste of time but a period in which one contributes to the development of the community to which one belongs. Emphasis was laid on the illegal status of men having sex with men in Nigeria, making it difficult to reach out to persons with these orientation or those who engage in the act. It was further reiterated to the participants that the best people to reach out to men who have sex with men in Nigeria is to make use of these same people as peer educators and leaders for their community. Peer educators form the pillar upon which education and knowledge for men who have sex with men is built in HIV prevention, treatment and other support services.

The facilitator also enumerated on the role and responsibilities of peer educators, especially as it concerns the HOT Project. The roles and responsibilities for the trained peer educators are as follows:
·         Spend at least 6 hours per week working in the community center and 3 days per month working in the community center.
·         Participate as an active member of the multidisciplinary care team for MSM living with HIV
·         Conduct one-on-one counseling sessions with their peers on the following topics:
1.       HIV basics
2.       Understanding care and treatment
3.       Adherence to care and treatment
4.       Disclosure
5.       Positive living and positive prevention
6.       Ongoing psychosocial support
7.       Others, as decided by the project secretariat
·         Help their peers with referrals within the health facility, including walking them to the referral point, explaining why the referral was made and what services will be given at the referral point and making sure their peer is seen in a timely and respectful manner at the referral point
·         Act as a link between their peers and the multidisciplinary care team, including presenting common concerns of peers/adherence challenges faced by MSM living with HIV in multidisciplinary team meetings
·         Conduct community outreach and education activities to improve community knowledge about HIV and its prevention
·         Lead support group meetings and, where none exist, form new support groups
·         Keep basic records and compile monthly reports to be submitted to the Project Coordinator

Knowledge in issues relating to human sexuality, gender, rights were also part of the sessions that were delivered. This was imperative in order that peer educators during their peer education activities could also educate their peers on issues of human rights, gender and sexuality in relation to HIV. The module objectives were as follows:
·         Participants will have an understanding of the concept of sexuality
·         Have a vivid understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity and be able to educate their peers as regards sexual orientation and gender identity
·         Understand what Human Rights are, the relationship between HIV and Human Rights and understand  rights within Nigerian society even as LGBTI to self advocate
 Sexuality encompasses everything about an individual from the day they were born to the day they die, hence it is an integral part of being a human being and this includes their sexual identity and orientation because they are also a part of an individual’s sexuality. Sexual health considers healthy sexual development, equitable and responsible relationships and sexual fulfillment; it is also freedom from illness, disease, disability, violence and other harmful practices related to sexuality and its expression.
Under human rights, participants were made to understand why the burden of HIV is greater amongst most at risk populations, most especially amongst gays, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. The need for the campaign of rights and the holistic inclusion of MSM in HIV programming throughout Nigeria was underscored to the participants with emphasis laid on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international treaties and covenants that protects from the discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, most especially those to which Nigeria as a country is signatory to.

The module on HIV/AIDS/STIs began with a values and values clarification. The module consisted of the following sessions: STIs, Voluntary Counseling and Testing, Stigma and Discrimination and Risk and Vulnerability.
 The session on sexually transmitted diseases was incorporated into the training module to enable participants get the relationship between STIs and HIV. Taking the participants through the session, emphasis was on a person’s sexual behaviour which puts them at risk of acquiring and spreading sexually transmitted infections. Emphasis was also laid on untreated STIs which further put people at a risk of HIV infection. The different kind of STIs that MSM were prone to was enumerated to the participants, together with their signs, symptoms and available treatment. Participants were made to understand that it is important to be tested if one thinks that he/she has been exposed to an STI. It is important to note that counseling plays an important role in the management of STIs.
Partner notification of STIs was pointed out to participants as good practice in STI management  Early notification of partners of an STI provides the other partner the opportunity to ascertain their own infection status; where an infection has been diagnosed the partner commences treatment immediately, this helps prevent re-infection for both parties. And where the partner has not been infected by the STI, then preventive measures are put in place to ensure that they are not infected with the STI.  STIs easily predispose an individual and most especially MSM to HIV infection. The essence of preventing or making sure an acquired STI infection is treated properly before one engages in sex again in other to reduce the percentage of acquiring HIV.
The module on HIV took the participants through the basic facts and stages in the progression of the disease. The following stages in the progression of HIV were outlined and explained to the participants.
§  Window Stage: This is the period between when HIV infection occurs and the body’s response by producing anti-bodies to fight the infection. At this stage, there are no signs and symptoms of infection and the person appears negative when tested. The infected person is capable of transmitting the virus also at this stage.  This period is usually between 3 to 6 months.
§  Dormant Stage: At this stage, there are also no signs and symptoms. However, the person if tested appears positive.
§  AIDS Related Complex: This is the stage when clinical symptoms with non-specific illness begin to show. These symptoms include swelling of the lymph nodes, nausea, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, fever and fatigue.
§  Full Blown AIDS: This is the stage when the infected person begins to show signs and symptoms related to AIDS. These signs and symptoms are those of the opportunistic infections that occur as a result of the damaged immune system. This stage is also the last and fatal stage of infection.

The mode of transmission of HIV were also spelt out to the participants as follows:
·         By sexual intercourse- vaginal, anal or oral with an infected person
·         By transfusion with HIV infected blood (often with blood that was not screened)
·         By sharing needles, razors and other sharp objects with an infected person; and
·         From an infected mother to her unborn baby, before, during or after birth
Factors that increased the vulnerability of MSM to HIV infection were also enumerated upon:
·         Discriminatory and repressive laws as found in the statues book of Nigeria
·         Stigma and discrimination
·         Inadequate healthcare service provision
·         Hetero-normative culture compelling sexual minorities to engage in heterosexual unions
·         Hostile policy environment
Participants were also taken through Risk and Vulnerability, HIV Testing and Counseling and Stigma and Discrimination. Participants were made to understand the risks and factors that contributes to MSM being prone to HIV infection. Some of these risks and vulnerability pointed were:
·         Unprotected sexual intercourse (anal, oral and vaginal)
·         Multiple sexual partners
·         Discriminatory and Repressive Laws
·         Human Rights Violation
·         Lack of access to information relating to issues on HIV/AIDS
·         Untreated Sexually Transmitted Infections
Taking the participants through HIV Testing and Counseling, HIV/AIDS treatment and care, the facilitator reiterated that counseling forms an important foundation in helping people resolve internal conflicts in relation to HIV and also gain the inner courage to move on with their lives positively irrespective of the outcomes of their test results.  The possible outcomes of an HIV test results were also elucidated on:
·         Positive: If the test detects antibodies for HIV, we know that HIV has entered the body. When antibodies are found, we say the blood is HIV-positive, or sero-positive. Blood tests are 99% accurate in most places. This means there is a 1% chance the test will not be accurate, and may show a “false positive.” For this reason, most positive or indeterminate results are confirmed with a second test.
·         Negative: A “negative” result means that antibodies were not found, indicating either that the     person has not been infected with HIV, or, it may be too early to tell. In the 2-3 month period after infection, it is too early for antibodies to have formed. This period is called the window period. To be absolutely accurate, the test should be taken twice in three months giving HIV antibodies time to appear in the bloodstream after the time of infection. 
It is noted that within the MSM communities across Nigeria, stigma and discrimination remains a challenge in HIV prevention work for MSM. With a soaring prevalence rate of HIV amongst MSM in Nigeria, the session on stigma and discrimination was imperative so that participants could educate their peers and also have adequate understanding of the relationship between HIV transmission and stigma and discrimination. The session was opened with experience sharing relating to stigma and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV status.
In closing the session, the facilitator shed light on the “SAVE” approach as a medium of prevention, treatment and support services.
S - Safe Practices:  Safe Practices means that individuals, families, communities and organizations are encouraged to adopt practices that reduce their chances of getting infected and adopting the best and appropriate approach in particular to their situation. These will be different for different groups of people.
A – Accessing Appropriate Interventions: Accessing appropriate information requires that organizations are informed with up-date information on ways in which those with HIV can better increase their quality of life and actively encourage people to make use of these services. This will include access to anti-retroviral drugs, clinics, access to improved nutrition, rapid referral to health services for HIV infected and non-HIV infected people. It would also include encouraging communities and families not to reject HIV infected people.
V – Verification: Verification encourages all at risk to, however small to seek and access testing facilities available. It also encourages organizations not to attach stigma to the process of testing and to see it as a responsible action.
E – Education:  Education recognizes the importance of accurate information on a whole range of issues relating to HIV/AIDS and also opportunities to discuss and engage with these as part of the process of individuals, families and communities making informed decisions.
The session took participants through the use of condoms and lubricants and their role in the prevention of HIV and re-infection with HIV. There was a short discussion amongst the participants on the reasons why young people complain about the efficacy or effectiveness of a condom in preventing sexually transmitted infections. Alongside this was also a short discussion on why MSM find the use of condoms difficult. One prominent question that was an outcome of the discussion centered on the efficacy and effectiveness of condoms. A participant raised the question of condoms have pores and with the size of the virus, there was bound to be transmission.  
Furthermore, the facilitator took the participants through the anatomy of the anus, explaining to participants the reason why MSM are more vulnerable to HIV prevention.  Condom preservation was also touched upon. It was interesting to note that during the sessions, participants with condoms in their wallet brought them out. Light was also shed on the expiry date of condoms, which in a way determines the effectiveness and efficacy of the condom. In addition, light was shed on the different sizes of condoms that would be available for distribution during the literacy session and the field work of the peer educators.
Knowledge of participants on lubricants was tested. It was not surprising to find out that most participants had little or no knowledge of water based lubricants.  To test the difference between water based lubricants and oil based lubricant, the facilitator took the participants through a practical session on condom wearing and the difference in using oil based lubricant and a water-based lubricant.
During the session, participants raised questions on frequency of the incidence of HIV infection in relation to oral sex when there are microscopic sores in the mouth in lieu with anal rimming amongst MSM in relation to acquiring HIV or other STIs. Issues relating to sexual satisfaction in relation to condom use were discussed too. This led to a discussion between the participants. It was explained to the participants there were chances of becoming infected with HIV through oral sex if there were sores in the mouth. Ejaculating in the mouth also contributes to increasing the rate of becoming infected with HIV via oral sex. This was explained to the participants as a risky behaviour which should be avoided. Emphasis was laid on other sexually transmitted infections which can be easily contracted through the oral medium .For safety; participants were introduced to falvoured condoms for oral sex and dental dam for rimming. Also introduced to the participants as another form og prevention was the female condom which could also be improvised for anal sex either with a female or a male partner.

The session was introduced into the training module to build knowledge of the participants on how HIV/AIDS can be managed. Participants were taken through HIV treatment, prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections, anti-retroviral therapy and positive living.
The session started with an introduction to HIV treatment.  Light was shed on the essence of HIV treatment and why the knowing of one’s status was a very integral part of a holistic sexual health profile. Participants were made to understand that, though HIV is still a life threatening illness, it is no longer a death sentence with the availability of life saving drugs.
Emphasis was also laid on the opportunistic infections to which HIV positive people were prone to due to a depressed immune system and viral replication. Prevention of opportunistic infections and treatment were explained to the participants.  As stigma and discrimination continues to be a challenged within the Nigerian society, with homosexuality being illegal and criminal, the need for positive living was also touched on so as to enable the participants understand the relationship between good health and an HIV positive status.  

The session on Communication and Interpersonal skills started   with an exercise. The facilitator asked participants to define communication. Some of the definition given were:
·                     Act of transferring information
·                     Sharing ideas
·                     Passing of vital information to another persons
·                     Passing message across

The facilitator then defined communication as follows: This is defined as the activity or process of expressing ideas and feelings or of giving people information. It also deals with method of sending information, especially through the electronic media e.g. Telephone, radio, computer, television, e.t.c. or by words of mouth. At this juncture the facilitator asked the participants what the fastest form of communication was. There was disagreement as to which the fastest medium was. Arguments were centered on the television, radio.

Communication falls within two ranges: inter personal and intra-personal. The module on communication was to educate the participants on how to communicate messages in HIV prevention at any given environment. Participants were taken through the 4 Cs of communications. This are:
·         CREDIBILITY: The audience needs to believe who is saying it, what is being said, and how it is being said.
·         COMPREHENSION: The audience must understand the message. Message should be clear, concise and repeated.
·         CONNECTION: The audience must relate to the message. Facts, stories, or pictures can help the audience to connect.
·         CONTAGIOUSNESS: The messenger, message and mode should motivate the audience to share the message with others.
Barriers to passing quality HIV prevention to one’s peer groups were also spelt out to the peer educators. The facilitator elucidated on the barrier of language, culture, religion and educational background.    
Punctuality as to the starting time of the program was a main challenge to the project secretariat, especially in the first day of the day. Queer Alliance felt this was due the fact of the project being the first in Delta State. Some participants also felt uneasy as to security and safety.

This was managed with the project Rashid Williams shedding more, light on his personal journey as an advocate and an open gay man and the reason why the project was brought to Delta States.

Queer Alliance is particularly thrilled with the commencement of the HIV prevention programme targeting men who have sex with men in the inner cities of Nigeria, beginning from Delta state. This has resulted in the gradual building of the capacity of men who are being discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in HIV prevention.  The mobilization visits and FGDs conducted by Queer Alliance informed the content of the training curriculum as well as the selection of the peer educators. In addition, the training presented a very good learning and working experience for our organization, facilitators and participants alike. The training drew hands on experienced resource persons with expertise in Human Rights, Sexual Health and HIV and Project Monitoring and Evaluation.

The availability of the Staying Alive Foundation grant has enabled us to respond to the unmet needs and capacity of gays, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men in HIV prevention, treatment and support services.

“I will recommend that we have more of these training to help build our capacity as peer educators in Delta state. and increase knowledge in issues of human rights”
“I was secure in the Queer Alliance community centre in the area of expressing my identity, orientation, values and thought about my rights and sexual health during the trainings.”
“I will ensure that I apply what I have learnt on the field amongst my peers”
“We are extremely grateful to Staying Alive foundation for supporting the HOT program with funds; words can’t express our appreciation as gays and bisexuals in Delta State”. We have waited this long for a program such as this and we thank Queer Alliance and Queer African Youth Networking Center for coming to Delta State.

As with other projects that have been conducted in Nigeria for men who have sex with men, Queer Alliance recommends quarterly refresher sessions with the peer educators so as to constantly update them on information in HIV prevention, care and treatment. The key challenge here would be funding.

The training was an eye opener to MSM in Delta State and Queer Alliance hope (is sure) to experience success as the project continues.