This is an initiative being implemented by St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation as it seeks to create sustainable partnerships and coalitions for LGBT human rights defenders and their allies in 76 countries where it is illegal to be LGBT or to provide HIV services to the LGBT.
Our first giant step forward
In response to the need for training and advocacy for organizations engaged in the intersection of faith and rights, the St. Paul’s Foundation developed the “Spirit of 76” initiative in October 2011. Through that initiative, we brought 26 activists to Washington, D.C., from many of the 76 countries where it is currently illegal to be LGBT, which too often results in not having equal access to HIV prevention and health services. The Foundation provided full scholarships (flight, per diem, accommodation and visa fees) to permit these “authentic witnesses” to spend two weeks at the International AIDS Conference, two-day Interfaith pre-conference, and other advocacy programs. The goal was to build skills, establish an international network, and develop new resources for these individuals and their organizations. For more information, read the final report on the conference (a PDF document).
Using a shared confidential Facebook page and “Erasing 76 Crimes” blog, the delegates agreed to keep in closer contact with each other, support each other, and share funding opportunities.
The Spirit of 76 Worldwide network has already developed submitted to the Carr Fund for funding to fight AIDS and homophobia in a dozen countries.
A Sustainability Team comprised of participants was formed to track the group’s progress and ways delegates could potentially meet at future events such as the clergy training conferences planned in Malawi and Uganda.
Goals of Spirit of 76 Worldwide
The Spirit of 76 Worldwide project aims to save tens of thousands of lives in the fight against AIDS in countries where homosexuality is illegal. This goal can be reached by launching and supporting programs that serve currently unserved LGBT communities.
That struggle is under way.