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John Smith: Challenging stigma and discrimination through human rights education in Guinea

*Real name has been changed for safety reasons*

John Smith is a founding member of Afrique arc-en-ciel Guinée, an NGO which has been striving to protect and defend the LGBTQ+ community in Guinea from false information, stigma, and discrimination since 2008. John participated in the first edition of Global Rights Connection – an innovative virtual human rights training program created by Equitas. This opportunity enabled him to develop further skills in human rights education and advocacy which he will share with his team members at his organization.  

“I am very happy to participate in this training, not only me, but also my association, with my peer educators, to pass on the knowledge acquired and strengthen their capacities for the defense of human rights in our localities and improve their intervention in the areas of LGBTQ advocacy towards partners.”

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, John is conscious that there is significant cultural and social pressure that dictates the general behaviour and beliefs that people hold in relation to LGBTQ+ people. Having a grasp on the social context in Guinea and an academic background in public law, John decided to establish Afrique arc-en-ciel Guinée to effect meaningful social change. Through his organization, John trains peer educators to identify and correct false information related to LGBTQ+ people and rights. He also works to ensure that peer educators are informed and educated on health practices so that they are equipped to follow up with partner health and community centers that cater to the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ individuals. This means that individuals who do not have the privilege to safely access care at any health facility without fear of discrimination can receive the inclusive healthcare that they have the right to. 

John plans to implement the tools and techniques that he acquired in Global Rights Connection through his Individual Plan – a component of the program wherein participants develop an action plan that can be sustainably carried out in their respective organizations. John will focus his Individual Plan on incorporating the learning spiral, participatory approach, and universality of human rights into his training with peer educators to help strengthen their activities and practices that raise awareness around stigma against LGBTQ+ persons in communities across Guinea.  

Being an active member in his community and ardently working to defend the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals in Guinea has made John a standout participant during the program. Because of his dedication and commitment to equality, right to health, and social justice, John was selected as the Global Rights Connection participant who would receive the bursary dedicated to the late Charlot Jeudy.  


Charlot Jeudy was the Director of Kouraj pou pwoteje dwa moun in Haiti, an organization that defends and promotes the rights of LGBTQ+ persons across the country. Charlot’s impact as a human rights defender was felt across the globe. He worked alongside many other marginalized groups in Haiti, including women, people living with disabilities, farmers, and others, to fight for equality and respect for all. In addition to the powerful work that Charlot was carrying out in Haiti, he also participated in Equitas’ International Human Rights Training Program. The sudden passing of Charlot in 2019 left the human rights community in a mix of shock and grief. As he was a leading figure in the LGBTQ+ movement in Haiti and a devoted human rights activist, this bursary was created to honour his memory and support other human rights defenders.

The groundbreaking work that John is doing in Guinea to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people resembles and radiates the passion that Charlot Jeudy had when he was fighting for equal rights in Haiti. The legacy of Charlot Jeudy continues with the great work of human rights activists such as John, who persist even when facing cultural, social, and legal challenges on a daily basis in not only their personal lives but also professional. It is John’s dedication and commitment to achieving equal respect for all that makes him a force for LGBTQ+ rights in Guinea and the exemplary first recipient of the Charlot Jeudy award.