What issue are you trying to solve?
While homosexuality is not illegal in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), there are no legal protections for LGBTI communities either. Existing laws of “indecency” are open to interpretation and often wielded to file cases against LGBTI individuals. Disgruntled neighbours, colleagues and family members have used the press to publicly “out” people suspected to be gay. A culture of silence and the absence of protections has made LGBTI communities vulnerable to discrimination, stigma, and violence, thereby forcing many LGBTI individuals into social isolation. Most vulnerable to these socio-political challenges are LGBTI youth, particularly those who are affected by HIV and are prevented from accessing vital health services and support. Through partnering with community radio stations and local LGBTI activist groups, this initiative provides a radio-based platform for DRC’s LGBTI communities to produce and broadcast programs targeted at LGBTI communities, youth and the wider public.
What approach do you take to solve this issue?
CRF uses radio to create opportunities for information sharing, dialogue, leadership, advocacy, and community building among youth. CRF partners with radio stations, community-based organizations, and activist groups training youth to create informed radio programs that are broadcast on local stations and online. Radio reaches more than 85% of DRC’s population and radio stations are vibrant public spaces where audiences can share views and form opinions about the issues affecting their everyday lives. This initiative uses radio to raise awareness of LGBTI issues at the local level and to foster dialogue around the rights of minorities. The initiative builds the technical capacity of partners and invests in their development by providing them with radio tools to facilitate consultative practices and advocacy with communities, more nuanced stories of discrimination and lack of access, and the impact of LGBTI rights and stigma as seen through the eyes of Congolese youth.
What is the potential impact of your initiative?
Since 2011, CRF has been tackling LGBTI issues within our programming and creating a wide range of tools and strategies that use radio to promote LGBTI rights and youth participation. In 2015, CRF partnered with Jeunialissime to create “Jeuniafrica”, DRC’s first LGBTI radio broadcasts. Through an online podcast targeted at DRC’s LGBTI community and a weekly human rights radio show on one of Kinshasa’s biggest radio stations, Jeunialissime strategically pushes conversations forward about LGBTI rights across diverse and interlinked audiences. The initiative has increased knowledge of rights and services within the LGBTI community and decreased stigma amongst the listeners. The next strategic steps are as follows: further, equip our DRC partner radio stations to address LGBTI issues within their youth-led and broader programming; strengthen LGBTI civil society organizations (CSOs) and activist groups to use radio as a means of advancing LGBTI rights and access to health services in DRC.