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Executive Director of UNAIDS awarded ‘Most outspoken Ally of the Year’ for her work supporting the...

HARARE/GENEVA, 8 November 2023—The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima has been recognized as the ‘Most Outspoken Ally of the Year’ by Global Black Gay Men Connect for her extensive work advocating for the rights and well-being of marginalized communities. The announcement was made at the African Men Health and Rights award ceremony which took place today during the 22nd International Conference on AIDS and STIs.

“I am deeply honoured, and I accept this award on behalf of all the human rights and social justice warriors tackling inequalities around the world today,” said Ms Byanyima. “I will continue to be your outspoken ally, promoting inclusivity, fighting stigma and discrimination, and championing equal access to healthcare and human rights for all.”

“Your tireless advocacy for the rights and well-being of marginalized communities, including the LGBTQ+ community, has not gone unnoticed, said Michael Ighodaro, Co-founder, Global Black Gay Men Connect. “Your dedication is truly commendable. Your voice has been an unwavering source of support and inspiration for countless individuals and organizations across the globe.

Gay men and other men who have sex with men continue to be stigmatized and marginalized, keeping them away from health and social services and rendering them more at risk of becoming infected with HIV and less likely to seek treatment. In 2022, HIV prevalence amongst gay men and other men who have sex with men was almost 13% in Eastern and Southern Africa and 8% in West and Central Africa.

Today 67 countries still criminalize same sex relations. Evidence shows that criminalizing LGBTQI people for who they are and who they love prevents them from accessing HIV services. Even when they can access those services, they cannot do so with dignity due to the stigma and discrimination they face, which further exacerbates their vulnerability.

Countries that do not criminalize LGBTQI people are more likely to reach marginalized communities most affected by HIV. In recent years many African countries have moved away from the archaic laws that criminalize same sex sexual relations. Since 2016, Angola, Botswana, Gabon, Mauritius, and Seychelles have repealed laws criminalizing LGBTQI people. Progress has been uneven however, and alarming backsliding on punitive laws has been seen in a number of countries.

“Movements like Global Black Gay Men Connect is on the frontlines of the HIV response around the world. We must safeguard their leadership role to end AIDS and create a more just and equitable world.” said Ms Byanyima.



Global Black Gay Men Connect is an international, social justice platform that brings together black gay men from around the world to foster resilience against oppression and to advocate for the human rights and wellbeing of marginalized communities, including human rights centered HIV prevention and treatment services.


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.