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Global Forum on MSM and HIV, Speaking Out

The need

Noah Metheny, MSMGF1

Across the globe, gay men and other MSM face unique challenges accessing HIV prevention and treatment services – despite the fact that these populations shoulder much of the disease burden. This is due to a range of structural barriers, such as, homophobia, stigma and discrimination, violence and harassment, criminalisation of homosexuality in certain countries, and national policies and HIV/AIDS programmes that don't address the needs of these populations, and thus aren't an effective HIV response.

As an organisation, we recognised early on that it was one thing for us to hold global institutions accountable to their commitment to MSM, but it was another thing entirely to prepare local activists to advocate and hold their national governments accountable to their needs and to the AIDS response at home. To be effective, two things became clear. One, we had to ensure that our advocacy at the global level was informed by the realities on the ground for constituents, and, two, those constituents had to be well-prepared and well-resourced to do their own advocacy in their own home countries. This collaboration is meant to marry those things and to fill that gap.

Key Facts

Project: Speaking Out

Run by: The Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF), in partnership with various local organisations at the country and regional levels

Region: The Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) and Central America; with other funders supporting the project in Vietnam, Cambodia and Kenya

Population: Gay men and other MSM; Transgender individuals

Challenges: Stigma and discrimination; policies and programmes that don’t address MSM or transgender people in the context of general HIV outreach; violence and harassment against gay men, other MSM and transgender people; criminalisation of same sex acts, particularly in certain Middle Eastern and North African countries

Activities: Development of a global advocacy tool kit (2009-2010), which was then translated, adapted and contextualised to meet regional and national needs; Implementation of intensive, local training curriculums based on the adapted content; Funding and technical assistance for breakthrough advocacy initiatives conceptualised during the training sessions