UK Government commits £12 Million to promote LGBT+ Inclusion

March 26, 2019

HARARE – UK Secretary of State for International Development, Ms Penny Mordaunt recently, announced that up to £12 million UK Aid Connect funding will be available for a consortium led by Hivos  to work on LGBT+ inclusion in Africa.

The consortium brings together African LGBT+ networks, research institutes and international NGOs, to promote LGBT+ inclusion on the continent, through a city-level approach.

LGBT+ rights in Africa have made significant progress since South Africa recognized the full equality of LGBT+ people – but only in some parts of the continent. In many places, inequality including media’s negative representation of the LGBT+ people is on the rise. Stigma, exclusion and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, expression and sex characteristics remain widespread and persistent. As a result, LGBT+ communities suffer from exclusion and often live in fear for their safety.

To address the persisting challenges facing the LGBT+ community, promote LGBT+ inclusion in society and to drive positive change, Hivos and seven partners, committed to work together in five cities, under the Strong in Diversity – Bold on Inclusion programme (SiDBoI) for four years (2019-2022).

The consortium will engage societal leaders, empower LGBT+ communities and train journalists and media houses on positive representation; strengthen LGBT+ communities to be more resilient, while also providing research based evidence on the experiences of LGBT+ people.

Speaking after the announcement by Ms Mordaunt, Hivos Regional Director for Southern Africa Tanja Lubbers said, “I would like to thank UK aid for the financial support, it will help us to achieve a shared vision of improving the lives of LGBT+ people. We also hope to create safe spaces for dialogue between LGBT+ people and different stakeholders so that they can play a key role in the development of societal and policy decisions that affect their daily lives.”

The consortium partners are; Hivos (Lead), African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), ARTICLE 19, Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), Kaleidoscope Trust, Synergía – Initiatives for Human Rights, Workplace Pride Foundation, and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London (in collaboration with the University of Glasgow and the University of Pretoria).

The programme is currently at the co-creation phase (Jan – Sept, 2019), and key deliverables include; setting up of city offices, recruitment of key personnel, and consolidation of work plans.

Notes for Journalists:

SidBoI Programme Manager, Monica Tabengwa said, We look forward to joining the resistance, opposing discrimination and dismantling harmful stereotypes, through supporting and strengthening local civil society initiatives on LGBT+ equality and inclusion.”
DR. Olusegun Odumosu, Acting Executive Director at the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) said,Part of being an African is seeing change happen in one’s life time, from living in a country as young as one’s self, to visiting neighbouring countries not much older, more than anywhere else in the world, Africa is a place of tactile and persistent change and the Strong in Diversity – Bold on Inclusion programme (SidBoI) presents an opportunity for African communities to take bold steps towards equality of all its peoples regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression…”


ARTICLE 19 Deputy Executive Director, Quinn McKew said,“We are deeply grateful to work on such an essential agenda with excellent partners. Together, we look forward to creating positive narratives and media representation that will strengthen societies’ appreciation for diversity and inclusion. Human rights are fundamental and universal; barriers to achieving those must be broken.”


Donna A M Smith, Director of Development at the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) said, “CAL looks forward to the opportunity that this project offers to increase the visibility, and strengthen the leadership of LBQ women on the continent, within both the LGBT+ and women’s movements, because the struggle of LGBT+ people cannot be seen in isolation from other struggles for gender equality and sexual rights. We must fight multiple and intersecting oppressions that impede the full enjoyment of rights by women and other marginalised people. There can be no true inclusion where women continue to be excluded.”


Paul Dillane, Executive Director of Kaleidoscope Trust said, “Kaleidoscope Trust is delighted to be joining this extraordinary group of organisations in implementing the UK Department for International Development’s flagship £12 million LGBT+ programme: UK Aid Connect. The announcement represents a landmark investment in efforts to promote inclusion and tackle exclusion discrimination across Africa and underscores the UK Government’s commitment to LGBT equality globally.”


Stefano Fabeni, Executive Director of Synergía – Initiatives for Human Rights said, “We are extremely pleased that the UK, through DFID, has committed to such a significant investment in order to promote and protect LGBT+ human rights. We are thankful to the role that the UK is taking towards LGBT+ equality, both with this programme as well as its leadership of the Equal Rights Coalition. We are thrilled to be part of this effort and are convinced that it will make a meaningful difference towards inclusion for all.”


Workplace Pride Foundation – (Executive Director David Pollard), said, “Access to employment and interaction with employers to realise positive change is a crucial element for LGBT+ communities. For well over a decade, Workplace Pride has worked with and through employers all over the world to ensure that LGBTI communities are both part of this process of greater inclusion and a recipient of its results. We are therefore honoured to be part of this project and to make the connection for all of our stakeholders in Africa.”
  Senior Lecturer in human rights at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, Dr Corinne Lennox said,“We believe that new research informed by local communities’ needs, and that provides a solid evidence-base for inclusion, can strengthen existing advocacy strategies for LGBT+ equality”


About the Partners

  • The two leading African LGBT+ networks Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) and African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) guarantee a direct and crucial link to LGBT+ activists and their organisations in the five focus cities.
  • Civil society organisations such as Workplace Pride and the Kaleidoscope Trust bring specific knowledge on how to engage respectively the business sector and politicians for LGBT+ inclusion.
  • The international civil society organisations ARTICLE 19 and Synergía both have a longstanding presence in Africa and bring experiences of working with the media sector (ARTICLE 19) and on capacity strengthening and regional lobby and advocacy (Synergía).
  • Three renowned universities (the School of Advanced Study, University of London, the University of Glasgow, and the South African University of Pretoria) jointly bring expertise in key disciplines of the social sciences and humanities on research for social change, including on human rights and inclusion of LGBT+ people in Africa.
  • Hivos brings a long experience in supporting and strengthening local civil society initiatives on LGBT+ human rights and inclusion, including in Africa. It has led various multi-stakeholder initiatives, and has the tools and experiences to bring a wide variety of actors together to jointly make progress on sensitive topics.

Programme Strategies

The Consortium identified three overarching strategies:

  • Engaging societal leaders to convince them to change their – often negative and stigmatising – narratives and actions around issues related to LGBT+ people;
  • Educating journalists and media houses to get a better understanding of the daily lives and struggles of LGBT+ people, and encourage diversity on the media work floors; and
  • Empowering the LGBT+ communities by providing tools and strengthening skills and expertise that support them to engage with societal leaders and media. 

For more information on the Strong in Diversity – Bold on Inclusion, Promoting LGBT+ Rights Programme,  please contact:

SiDBoI Programme Manager
Hivos Regional Office for Southern Africa
20 Phillips Avenue. Belgravia,
T + [263 (0) 24 2250463 | 263 (0) 24 2250463 ] Or visit: