Award-winning singer and composer Elton John have begun a $10m fund that would issue grants and provide expertise to people in homophobic regimes.
The Aids Foundation — which he established — would provide grants to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Africa stigmatised and penalised for their sexual orientation. The Aids Foundation would work with the US President Barack Obama’s Pepfar plan for Aids relief.
According to John, he has no power to persuade countries with homophobic laws to change their values:
“I know that certain governments in Africa will not respond to someone like me telling them you should do this, you should do that. I count for nothing as far as that goes.
“What I can do is ensure that people who are LGBT – if their clinics are closed down because they are LGBT – we can give them medicine. If they are arrested, we will get them legal aid,” he said on Wednesday at the international Aids conference in Durban, South Africa.
Many sub-Saharan African countries have anti-homosexuality laws and in some, including Nigeria and Sudan, there is the threat of the death penalty. There is a long history of violent attacks and persecution against LGBT people.
“We will help them on the ground,” said John. “With these countries sometimes, who knows, it might take 50 years, but I guarantee it will change.”