Joseph Akoro, Nigeria
My name is Joseph Akoro. I'm from Nigeria. My organization is The Independent Project for Equal Rights [TIP]. Basically, what we do is we work on human rights and also HIV/AIDS issues in the LGBT community in general.
Our special focus [is on] young people, because we know that these people are the most vulnerable to HIV infection and human rights violations based on sexual orientation, which affects sexual behaviors, whether protected or unprotected.
To be HIV positive as a young person and a gay man -- or a man who has sex with men, however you identify -- in Nigeria is bizarre because the law discriminates against you having sex with a man, so you do not have any access to health care as someone who has sex with a man. Also, the government does not even provide those services because they do not acknowledge men who have sex with men.
As people with a great passion for young people and securing the future, TIP is actually working to set up a community center where LGBT people can meet and be themselves, get HIV prevention, care and treatment if there is [treatment available.]
We also think that HIV prevention is way beyond condoms and lubricants. We need to do something about the social welfare. We need to talk to them about their sexual identity, how to deal with their sexual identity, and how to observe protected sex, even despite their sexual behavior.
All of this we're looking at in Nigeria for young people -- in Lagos, where we are based and, of course, we could expand this as time goes and also as funding allows.
I'm going to be talking about the population that we serve because I know them better than every other population. Those are the young LGBT people. As a young person who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender in Nigeria, you cannot be open about your sexual orientation to your family. You're subjected to being ejected out from your family's home if you actually disclose this.
Young LGBT people live under this fear because once you're ejected from home, then you're subjected to every human rights violation, which includes health, your life, and everything like that. It's very risky to be open at home.