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Zackie Achmat
(1961 - living) South Africa


Writer, filmmaker and activist


Born in Fietas-Vrededorp in Johannesburg, he grew up in Salt River, Capetown, in a Muslim family, but in 1971 abandoned the madrassa and Islam, and began toilet sex with older white men.

AchmatHe was arrested in student riots following the 1976 Soweto rebellion. From the mid 1990s he was a key advocate for the rights of people HIV+ through the University of Witwatersrand-based AIDS law Project and the National AIDS Convention of South Africa (NACOSA).

In 1994 Achmat became a founding leader of the National Coalition dor Gay and Lesbian Equality, and was a key figure in the inclusion and retention of sexual orientation in the equality clauses of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of 1994, the subsequent striking down of the anti-sodomy laws, and the recognition of same-sex couples in immigration regulations.

In mid 1998 he publicly announced his HIV+ status and became a key activist in the campaign to make HIV treatement available in South Africa.



  • My Childhood as an Adult Molester
  • Scorpion under a Stone (1996)
  • Gay Life is Best
  • Die Duiwel Maak My Hart So Seer (1993)
Source: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History, Routledge, London, 2001
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