SAN DIEGO -- SDGLN is not often thought of as an international publication even though it is read in 175 countries. For many of our readers abroad -- the news and information about all the fun things we do here, our struggles and challenges and how we connect with the rest of the world, our publication represents a lifeline. It also gives them a hope that one day they too can have free association and a free press, civil rights, access to HIV information and health care as well as business opportunities.
It is a lifeline to normalcy in an otherwise violent and hateful reality for an estimated 300 million LGBT people around the world.
San Diego owes much of our international connection and awareness about LGBT oppression in 76 countries where it is still illegal to be LGBT, to St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation. The San Diego-based foundation is celebrating its second birthday on Saturday. Its president, the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, is a regular columnist with SDGLN and his RGOD2 column keeps us informed about what is going on in the rest of the world and what we San Diegans can do to help.
Already, we have seen some progress in building up relationships and resources thanks to the generous contributions of San Diegans and others across the world. The foundation sent $100,000 to help emerging African LGBT programs last year. These funds were used to build gay/straight alliances for employment, women’s development, HIV prevention and health services and provide advocacy for the local LGBT community that has been fighting draconian legislation like the “Kill The Gays” bill in Uganda.
The foundation is on target to deliver the same level of funding as well as sponsoring 26 people to attend the World AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. For such a small organization, its reach and impact has been profound. As millions of dollars pours into African from fundamentalist churches and organizations to deliberately misinform the community, the foundation is helping to build a bridge of resources so the LGBT community can take care of its own and build alliances with inclusive health and faith communities.
Here are some of the foundation’s accomplishments over the past two years:
• Technical Assistance visit to Uganda for the St Paul’s Reconciliation and Equality Center
• First education tour of the USA for bishop Christopher Senyonjo targeting supportive congregations
• First UN meeting building alliances between USA faith and secular organizations for inclusive programs in Uganda
• Elton John AIDS Foundation expands HIV education and testing programs to “most at risk” groups in Uganda
• A full time women’s coordinator is hired to develop brick making projects in Kampala
• A second and third educational tour is held for Bishop Christopher Senyonjo allowing him to expand his ministry of advocacy and inclusion in Uganda. He receives the Alumni Award at Union Theological Seminary in New York
• Attended the UNAIDS High Level meeting to discuss the future world AIDS plan and advocated for “most at risk” populations
• 80 Faith and secular leaders are sponsored to develop the COMPASS Coalition (Coalition on Minority Protection Against Sexual Stigma) to counter American-based religious homophobia in Africa.
• Continued Elton John AIDS Project in Uganda and developed a model training program of inclusion for physicians and nurses in Uganda.
• Created a women’s crafts and clothing program with expanding markets in the USA
• Opened an office in Nairobi to assist LGBT refugee and asylum seekers and provided support for our first four asylum seekers
• Sponsored a forth tour for Bishop Christopher Senyonjo who was named Grand Marshal of the San Francisco Pride Parade and won the competition to name the 2012 Pride theme - “Global Equality”.
• Sponsored 26 gay and straight individuals representing 76 countries where it is illegal to be LGBT, to attend The Spirit of 76 initiative and International AIDS conference
• Launched “Erasing 76 Crimes” blog to provide detailed research and information on the effects of criminalizing homosexuality globally
• Bishop Christopher Senyonjo and Pepe Onziama received Clinton Global Citizen Awards, signifying the first LGBT interest of the Clinton Global Initiative in LGBT rights and access to services.
The foundation would like to thank our local donors and not only celebrate the good news that is coming from San Diego to the global LGBT movement, but share what needs to be done in 2013. Clearly, there is a sympathetic administration in Washington, so the foundation will be talking about new opportunities coming up and how San Diegans are making a significant difference in the lives of our international readers and their friends.
The party will be held at the home of Susan Guinn and Denice Feldhaus on Saturday, Nov. 17, from 3 to 5:30 pm at 2828 Hartford Court in San Diego. Tax deductible contributions and tickets can be purchased HERE. You can read more about the work of the foundation HERE.