Who are we?
House of Our Pride (HOOP) is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) organisation working in the Manzini region of Swaziland. It is membership-based, and makes every effort to be democratic and accountable. We strive for the meaningful participation of all members of the community in influencing policy towards achieving equity, and attaining full and equal human, social and economic rights for the LGBTI population.
HOOP’s mandate is to provide practical support, guidance and assistance to LGBTI persons in relation to various matters, including (but not limited to) law, security, health and general wellbeing. We implement education, counselling and other programmes to empower the LGBTI community; as well as support – and take, when required – direct action to protect its vulnerable members. We work to minimise HIV/AIDS prevalence among our community; and we address other health issues, such as STIs and Transgender wellbeing.
What was the issue?
LGBTI people in Swaziland are discriminated against by their families, their communities and society at large, and so are isolated, with nowhere to turn when they need help. They are so marginalised that even those whose duty is to serve the public refuse to attend to them. Members of the community have faced this discrimination when seeking health services, not getting any help from health care workers. For this reason, many would not go to health care facilities when sick; and even if they did reach out, were not honest about their sexual behaviour and would not say what the real issue was – with the result that they did not get the help they needed. In either case, they would end up staying home, getting sick, getting worse and even dying – alone, and without help.
Another problem was a lack of knowledge – on the part of our community, about sexuality and sexual health; and on the part of the wider society, about LGBTI lives.