WISH0.0 solidarity and concern for black african gays and lesbians

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WISH0.0

WISH originally started as a monthly or bi-monthly meeting of a rather closed group of gay man acting as letter-campaigners around Gay- and Lesbian Human Rights Issues. The idea of creating such a group had been dropped in  during some conversations since late 1999,  but ultimately it was the razzia on the Queen Boat in Egypt that unlocked the motivation and potential to effectively start an initiative in the Flemish LGBT movement.
Amnesty International Netherlands and the frenchspeaking Amnesty International entity in Belgium had already LGBT letter-writing groups, Flanders had not such a Group, untill 2002 when a Group of motivated volunteers met in Het Roze Huis (Pinkhouse), in Antwerp and created the factual organisation called WISH, the acronym for Workinggroup on International Solidarity with Homosexuals.

The first major action of the group set out a line of conduct which even today is a major part of WISH2.be working programme. Following the razzia on the Queen Boat the egyptian Embassador to Belgium was invited to come and express himself on behave of the Egyptian  authorities concerning the violent action against LGBT. It was the first and till now, only visit of an Ambassador to the LGBT movement in Flanders, he came to Het Roze Huis thus accepting the invitation for dialogue sent out by WISH.

From 2002 on WISH engaged itself in letter campaigns driven by initiatives taken by Amnesty International or the International Gay- and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. From the very beginning the group maintained sustainable relations with a select number of intrested politicians and soon WISH would introduce from time to time parlementarian questions about homo- and transphobic issues and link them to human rights protection through the Belgian foreign policy.

Together with Amnesty Flanders and Amnesty Francophone, WISH decided that the visibility of international solidarity during the annual pride was a key element to an effective sensibilisation of the Belgian LGBT movement.
The visualisation of this solidarity in the streets of Brussels during the pride was welcomed with applaus on every corner. The banner ‘gay-rights are human rights’ holding the logo’s from Amnesty International and WISH, a gift from Amnesty to WISH,  became a strong instrument to create visibility for a group of no more then 20 to 30 people. The glags of Amnesty and the presence of ILGA-worlds rainbow flag completed the 2006 picture.

The positive experience with this ephemeric one-day visibility motivated the group to start organising from time to time sensitization inititiatives such as debate or small conferences. One of the milestones for the organisation and its credibility was the visit in 2006 by Dr. Paul Semugoma from Uganda, the visit was a keymoment in the history of the organisation. With it’s sensitization initiatives WISH became more and more visible for LGBT living in the diaspora and LGBT-asylumseekers looking for support in building and strengtening their case. Other organsiations such as the LGBT-federation would send all people from foreign origin with questions about their rights to WISH, a bad practices, as WISH had no structure and no subsidies, neither a core responsibility to assist those people, but the motivation was high and the learning about real gay- and lesbian life in countries where same-sex relations are criminalised was exciting.

Created once naked, refers to the fact that all those years WISH was operating with almost no money and not more then a few hundred Euros of subsidies per year. WISH had no desk, no phone, no proper office, WISH had nothing. WISH was a group of stewards stewarding with their own means.  The only significant materialisation  of the organisation was the famous banner, and a postbox at Het Roze Huis, later an external harddisk was procured to save the valuable archive of the group..