The Democratic Republic of the Congo has no law that makes homosexuality illegal in the country, but there is no societal acceptance for it, which makes the idea of equal treatment under the law a fantasy. Gay people there often choose to remain hidden to protect themselves from physical danger and social stigmatization. At this point, there is almost no legal support for the gay community outside the occasional gesture from international sources and NGOs.
Rainbow Sunrise was founded in 2011 by Joseph Saidi, 26, to support the gay community in the city of Bukavu in the eastern DRC. Progress is slow due to a lack of funds, but the organization plays a critical role for local gay men and women, providing free HIV testing, condoms, sexual education, and perhaps most importantly, a safe place to share their personal struggles with others, without having to feel ashamed, rejected, or judged.
Saidi was attacked and jailed for several days in May 2013: “When I was in prison, I spent two days without food or drink. I was tortured, and I was raped by three inmates. I suffered from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. I was discriminated against based on my sexual orientation. I was beaten by inmates. I thought I was going to die because since my birth I've never been subjected to such treatment.”