One Equal World

Elton John Supports South African AIDS Fight

Posted on: August 8, 2016

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Sir Elton John’s recent statement that he understands the severe limitations of effecting political change worldwide was underpinned by him putting his money where his mouth is. $10 million dollars, to be exact, to fund medical and legal support to an LGBT community sorely in need, in Africa.

He made the announcement at the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa that the money came from his AIDS Foundation. But his goals are broader than only the AIDS crisis. His goals and hopes are to effect political change in the African nations that still discriminate against or outright criminalize their LGBT populations, but he acknowledges soberly that he has little political power.

“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,” said Sir John at the announcement. “What I can do is ensure that people who are LGBT … we can give them medicine. If they are arrested, we will get them legal aid.”

There is some criticism perhaps to be leveled at Sir John for his focus on Africa. There are also European nations where it is illegal to be queer (Russia most notably). This is not a uniquely African prejudice, not by far. But he is going about it in the right way.

“We will help them on the ground,” he said. Supporting the LGBT community in these countries is important so others have the opportunity to effect their own change. People who are fighting for their health or their lives have little time or energy to do more than that. If his program and his funds can help them on their feet, can shield them from consequences for speaking for themselves, then that is the right kind of platform for him to offer.

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