The Iris Angola Association (Associação Íris Angola) has become the first civil rights organisation, advocating for LGBTI rights to be legally registered by the Angolan government.
According to the association’s director, Carlos Fernandez, the newly formed organisation is apart of a larger organisation established in 2013, the Angolan National Coordination Mechanism for Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
“We give psycho-social help to the community and promote the vision of community empowerment [with] civil society organisations working with HIV/AIDS in Angola,” Fernandez explained when speaking with Mambaonline.
“We provide care and support for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and sometimes we have to go to community members abandoned by relatives in hospitals or at home.”
Specialising on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other issues concerning the LGBTI community, Iris Angola Association has also worked with the nations Ministry of Education to help educate young people in schools about domestic and sexual violence and bullying.
Fernandez says that the registration was not only an historic achievement and victory for the Angolan LGBTI community, but also for the wider civil society, particularly when it remains difficult to register organisations in the country.
Fernandez added that he hopes that the organisation’s registration will help them overcome their previous financial difficulties, which has limited them from assisting more people living with HIV/AIDS.
Homosexuality is currently still illegal in Angola, where the law prohibits “acts against nature,” however, this law has seldom been enforced.