IDAHO Event Opens Doors for LGBT Community in Rwanda

U.S. Embassy Kigali - Kigali, Rwanda

Ambassador Donald W. Koran hosted the U.S. Mission to Rwanda’s first-ever celebration of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) with a May 17 reception. Members from three Rwandan lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual (LGBT) community groups attended, as did the diplomatic corps, local non-governmental organizations, and several senior Rwandan government (GOR) officials. GOR attendees included the Minister of Health, the Minister of Justice, the State Minister for Public Health, and Permanent Secretaries (PS – number 2 official) from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Disaster Management/Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR). One LGBT group leader said this event was the first time the groups have met face to face with Rwandan cabinet officials and appreciated the support both from the GOR and the Embassy. The Ambassador and LGBT representatives praised GOR support for UN statements against homophobia and the absence of laws criminalizing homosexuality in contrast to most neighboring countries LGBT representatives also raised concerns about continued discrimination by some law enforcement officials. The event was a good opportunity to show our support for LGBT rights, build new ties with local LGBT groups, and connect them with relevant international NGOs and donors. The event energized local LGBT groups who have expressed frustration with the lack of consideration for, and acknowledgement of, Rwanda’s LGBT community.

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