The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF)


Working worldwide against HIV for the health and human rights of men who have sex with men.
www.MSMGF.org

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The MSMGF Launches Aali Soutak 2: An Arabic Language Adaption of the Speaking Out Toolkit

The Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF), in partnership with Marsa Health Center (Beirut) is pleased to launch Aali Soutak[1], an Arabic language adaptation of the Speaking Out toolkit. Originally developed in French in 2010 by the MSMGF and the Moroccan organization ALCS, this toolkit is designed for use by all organizations in the Arabic-speaking world that advocate for the right to health of MSM. It is the first Arabic-language advocacy toolkit to address the rights and needs of key populations in the HIV epidemic response.

The “Aali Soutak” Toolkit was adapted through a participatory, training-of-trainers workshop that involved national and regional partners from across the region. Marsa Sexual Health Center hosted the training in Byblos, Lebanon in December 2014, bringing together 10 participants from Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Oman, Yemen, and Iraq. Local experts led participatory exercises to facilitate development of advocacy skills relevant to the HIV epidemic response amongst MSM in the region, and to integrate lessons learned into the final version of the toolkit.

By adapting the “Aali Soutak” Toolkit to an Arabic-language context, MSMGF hopes to reinforce existing initiatives in the Arabic-speaking world. The “Aali Soutak” Toolkit is designed to strengthen local advocacy capacity focused on addressing stigma, discrimination and violence – drivers of the HIV epidemic amongst MSM.

Please visit http://www.msmgf.org/index.cfm/id/375 to learn more about Arabic Language Speaking Out, and to download the “Aali Soutak” Toolkit. All documents are in Arabic.

Speaking Out Initiative is a technical and funding assistance program to support HIV advocacy efforts and leadership development at the grassroots level for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender activists. For more information about the Speaking Out Advocacy Initiative work in other regions/countries, please visit www.msmgf.org/speakingout.


[1] Aali Soutak is a translation of the term “Speaking Out” in Arabic. This title was also previously used for a French-language version of Speaking Out adapted for use in the Middle East and North Africa region.​

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Le MSMGF, en partenariat avec ARCAD Sida, lance Kumã-Parlons En : Une adaptation francophone de la boîte à outils « Speaking Out » en Afrique de l’Ouest


Le Forum mondial sur les HSH et le VIH (MSMGF) est fière de lancer Kumã-Parlons En[*], une adaptation francophone de la boîte à outils Speaking Out. Développée à l’origine en 2010 par le MSMGF et l’organisation marocaine ALCS, cette boîte à outils est conçue pour être utilisée par toutes les organisations de la région Afrique de l’Ouest francophone qui militent pour le droit à la santé des HSH.

La boîte à outils « Kumã » a été adaptée à travers un atelier participatif de formation de formateurs qui a impliqué les partenaires nationaux et régionaux de la sous région. ARCAD-SIDA (Mali) avec le soutien de ITPC MENA, a organisé la formation à Marrakech - Maroc- du 1 au 5 novembre 2014, qui a réuni treize participants de la Côte d’Ivoire, du Sénégal, du Togo, du Burkina Faso et du Mali. Les experts locaux ont conduit des exercices participatifs pour faciliter le développement des compétences de plaidoyer sur la riposte à l’épidémie du VIH parmi les HSH dans la région, et intégrer les leçons apprises dans la version finale de la boîte à outils.

En adaptant la boîte à outils « Kumã » au contexte de l’Afrique de l’Ouest francophone, le MSMGF espère renforcer les initiatives existantes de la région. La boîte à outils « Kumã » est conçue pour renforcer les capacités de plaidoyer local axés sur la lutte contre la stigmatisation, la discrimination et la violence –  facteurs qui accélèrent l’épidémie du VIH parmi les HSH. En parallèle, le MSMGF a supporté l’élaboration d’une évaluation rapide des besoins concernant le VIH et les HSH au Burkina Faso, Mali, Sénégal et Togo. L’évaluation a identifié et documenté les facteurs structurels et opérationnels importants qui favorisent ou entravent l’accès aux services du VIH parmi les HSH en Afrique de l’Ouest.

Vous pouvez visitez http://www.msmgf.org/index.cfm/id/372/ pour en savoir plus à propos de Speaking Out en Afrique de l’Ouest, et afin de télécharger la boîte à outils « Kumã » et l’évaluation rapide. Tous les documents sont en français.

L’initiative Speaking Out est un programme d’assistance technique et de financement pour soutenir les efforts de plaidoyer VIH et le développement du leadership au niveau communautaire pour les associations travaillant pour l’accès à la santé des hommes ayant des rapports sexuels avec d’autres hommes (HSH) et transgenres. Pour plus d’informations sur les travaux de l’initiative de plaidoyer Speaking Out dans les autres régions et pays, veuillez visitez www.msmgf.org/speakingout.




[*] Kumã est une traduction du terme « Speaking Out » en malinké, une langue parlée dans plusieurs pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest. Parlons-En est une traduction de « Speaking Out » en français.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Nouvelles opportunités d’engagement pour les populations clés dans le processus du Plan Opérationnel Pays (Country Operational Plan – COP) 2015 du PEPFAR

Mars 2015

En Février 2015, le Bureau du coordonnateur des Etats-Unis pour la lutte mondiale contre le sida (OGAC) a rendu public son guide d’orientation pour les plans opérationnels des pays/régions PEPFAR (COP/ROP) 2015. Ce document de 268 pages décrit les principaux changements dans la façon dont OGAC va allouer des fonds au cours des prochaines années, y compris les recommandations pour engager la société civile dans les décisions de financement du PEPFAR au niveau national et régional. Le 20 Février, OGAC a convoqué un webinaire (avec audio) pour l’ONUSIDA et les organisations de la société civile afin de fournir un aperçu du nouveau guide d’orientation. Dans le webinaire, OGAC a souligné la nécessité de coordonner l’engagement de la société civile avec le Fonds mondial, les gouvernements nationaux, les donateurs bilatéraux, l’ONUSIDA et autres. Cela inclut la suggestion que les pays utilisent leur note conceptuelle au Fonds mondial pour formuler des recommandations spécifiques aux équipes de pays du PEPFAR pour l’engagement de la société civile, le cas échéant.

Ces changements dans le processus du COP PEPFAR présentent à la fois des opportunités et des défis importants potentiels pour les militants, les ONG, et les membres de la communauté qui travaillent pour faire avancer les droits à la santé et les droits humains des hommes ayants des rapports sexuels avec d’autres hommes (HSH) et d’autres populations clés dans la riposte mondiale au VIH. Ce rapport met en évidence les opportunités et défis pour informer l’action significative des activistes et des organisations dans les nombreux pays et régions où opère le PEPFAR.

Le PEPFAR COP 2015 et la priorisation des populations clés

Le guide d’orientation du PEPFAR COP 2015 souligne qu’une nouvelle priorisation des ressources pour le contrôle de l’épidémie se concentrera sur les lieux et les populations les plus touchés de la maladie, avec un objectif d’aider les gouvernements locaux d’atteindre une couverture de 80% des personnes vivant avec le VIH dans ces endroits et populations pour septembre 2017. Pour prendre ces décisions de priorisation, les équipes de pays du PEPFAR vont régulièrement recueillir et analyser les données démographiques et épidémiologiques pour diviser les activités du programme géographiquement et par site en catégories « essentiel, presque essentiel, et pas essentiel » : les activités essentielles recevront la priorité pour le financement. D’un intérêt particulier pour la société civile, le guide d’orientation précise que les équipes des pays et régions PEPFAR devront recueillir  des données sur la prévalence du VIH et les estimations de la taille de la population des HSH, des travailleuses du sexe, (PS) et des personnes qui s’injectent des drogues (PUD), si et quand il est sécuritaire de le faire.

En outre, le guide d’orientation du COP 2015 souligne les trois domaines clés pour la réalisation de l’agenda des droits humains du PEPFAR : 1) Réduire la stigmatisation et la discrimination dans les établissements de soins de santé VIH ; 2) Garantir que les données pour la prise de décision sont réunies pour optimiser les soins aux personnes ; et 3) Soutenir les droits des personnes et l’accès aux services de qualité. Pour atteindre ces objectifs, les actions nécessaires pour les équipes de pays du PEPFAR comprennent a.) L’organisation de formations sur la non-discrimination ; b.) La préparation d’une évaluation environnementale juridique des lois, des règlements et des politiques qui favorisent ou entravent la riposte à l’épidémie ; et c.) De soumettre une évaluation de deux pages des processus nationaux qui signalent la stigmatisation/discrimination et les violations des droits des personnes affectant leur accès aux services.

Pour plus d’informations sur les « 5 agendas » du PEPFAR, qui comprennent les agendas du contrôle de l’épidémie et des droits de l’homme, veuillez consultez le document « Blueprint PEPFAR : Création d’un génération sans SIDA » émis par OGAC en 2012, ainsi qu’un rapport mené par le MSMGF sur les implications du « Blueprint PEPFAR » pour les HSH et les populations clés.

Un engagement de la société civile renforcé

Le guide d’orientation du PEPFAR COP 2015 comprend des nouvelles exigences pour accroître l’engagement de la société civile dans le développement de chaque plan opérationnel de pays. Il s’agit notamment de quatre étapes requises par chaque équipe de pays PEPFAR dans le processus de planification du COP : 1) Le développement d’un plan d’engagement avec la société civile ; 2) L’organisation de réunions d’engagement entre les équipes de PEPFAR et les organisations de la société civile ; 3) La sollicitation de commentaires écrits par des organisations de la société civile aux équipes PEPFAR ; et 4) La présentation des retours sur les commentaires écrits par les équipes PEPFAR aux organisations de la société civile. Le guide souligne que les consultations avec la société civile devraient se produire à travers une structure formelle sur un calendrier trimestriel, que plusieurs organisations de la société civile, y compris les représentants des populations clés, devrait être inclus, et que les équipes PEPFAR sont tenues de soumettre les recommandations de la société civile et les commentaires de l’équipe pays dans le cadre de la soumission du COP.

Appel à l’action

Le Forum Mondial sur les HSH et le VIH (MSMGF) félicite OGAC pour sa vision et son leadership dans son changement de politique pour accroître la participation de la société civile et poursuivre un agenda de promotion des droits humains à travers le processus de développement du COP. LE MSMGF demande en outre à OGAC, de s’assurer que les populations clés soient véritablement inclues dans les consultations de la société civile et que des fonds suffisants soient alloués pour agir dans chaque pays et région où PEPFAR fonctionne.

Plus précisément, le MSMGF appelle à OGAC à :

a.       Veiller à ce que les HSH et autres populations clés continuent d’être une priorité pour la programmation au sein de tous les pays bénéficiaires du PEPFAR, quelle que soit la disponibilité des données. L’indisponibilité de données fiables ne devrait pas empêcher la fourniture de programmes de qualité, accessibles, abordables et sûrs pour les HSH et autres populations clés.

b.      Quand les priorités pour les allocations PEPFAR sont redéfinies, donner un financement suffisant pour chaque pays PEPFAR afin de s’assurer que la collecte de données sur les HSH et autres populations clés soit menée en consultation avec les membres de ces communautés, et d’une manière qui assure la sécurité et la confidentialité des participants qui fournissent des données.

c.       Assurer le support du pays local dans le processus de développement du COP afin de s’assurer d’un travail axé sur les HSH et d’autres populations clés.  

d.      Veiller à ce que les représentants des programmes associatifs des HSH et d’autres populations clés soient véritablement inclus dans les consultations de la société civile, et que ces consultations soient à la fois transparentes et substantielles.

e.      S’engager à une allocation adéquate de fonds, en particulier pour les organisations communautaires moins grands et celles qui sont dirigées par des HSH et autres populations clés, afin d’atteindre les buts et les objectifs proposés par les membres des communautés HSH et autres populations clés dans le processus de développement du COP. 

Comment s’impliquer

Le MSMGF encourage les militants, les prestateurs de services, et les membres de la communauté des populations clés dans les pays PEPFAR de s’engager d’une façon significative dans les consultations de la société civile pour le processus de développement du COP 2015. Les dates limites de soumission du COP approchent rapidement,  en Avril et Mai 2015, ces consultations auront probablement lieu dans les prochaines semaines. OGAC a souligné et le MSMGF le réaffirme, qu’il existe plusieurs façons pour que les militants et les organisations jouent un rôle clé dans le développement des plans opérationnels des pays PEPFAR :

1.       Contacter les équipes de pays PEPFAR via votre ambassade américaine et demander des informations sur le calendrier précis des réunions d’engagement de la société civile dans le processus de planification COP 2015. À noter que OGAC a assigné les équipes de pays PEPFAR une date limite du 3 avril ou du 1 mai pour la soumission du COP 2015. Comme ce sont deux dates à très court terme, nous soulignons l’importance urgente de prendre contact dès que possible pour confirmer les dates spécifiques pour les consultations de la société civile dans votre pays.

2.       Contacter les réseaux, coalitions, et plateformes de coordination de la société civile qui travaillent à formuler des recommandations consolidés pour les équipes de pays du PEPFAR. Cela est d’une importance particulière pour s’assurer que les préoccupations des HSH et d’autres populations clés soient incluses. Le cas échéant, une approche potentielle est d’utiliser les notes conceptuelles soumises au Fonds mondial pour informer le COP PEPFAR.

3.       Fournir des notes écrites aux équipes de pays PEPFAR pour l’information et les données pertinentes pour les populations clés à inclure dans la soumission du COP.

Le MSMGF continuera à fournir des informations supplémentaires sur la façon de s’engager dans le processus du COP 2015 quand nous aurons davantage de nouvelles, dans les semaines et mois à venir. Nous vous invitons également à nous signaler tous les problèmes ou obstacles que vous rencontrez, afin que nous puissions ensemble les documenter et les rapporter à nos contacts à OGAC et avec les équipes de pays PEPFAR. Veuillez écrire au responsable du plaidoyer du MSMGF, Nadia Rafif, nrafif@msmgf.org pour toute question ou problèmes rencontrés.
 
Un fichier téléchargeable est disponible sur le site MSMGF au http://www.msmgf.org/files/msmgf/documents/PEPFAR_Community_Update_COP_2015_March_2015_FR.pdf.

Très cordialement,

L’équipe du MSMGF

Monday, March 9, 2015

New Engagement Opportunities for Key Populations in the PEPFAR 2015 Country Operational Plan Process

March 2015

In February 2015, the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) publicly released its PEPFAR Country/Regional Operational Plan (COP/ROP) 2015 Guidance. This 268-page document outlines key changes in how OGAC will allocate funds in coming years, including recommendations for engaging civil society in PEPFAR funding decisions at country and regional levels. On February 20th, OGAC convened a webinar presentation (with audio) for UNAIDS and civil society organizations to provide an overview of the new guidance. In the webinar, OGAC emphasized the need to coordinate civil society engagement with the Global Fund, national governments, bilateral donors, UNAIDS, and others. This includes the suggestion that countries use their concept note to the Global Fund to make specific recommendations to PEPFAR country teams for civil society engagement, where applicable.

These changes to the PEPFAR COP process present both significant opportunities and potential challenges for advocates, service providers, and community members working to advance the health and human rights of men who have sex with men (MSM) and other key populations in the global HIV response. This community update highlights these opportunities and challenges to inform meaningful action by activists and organizations in the many countries and regions where PEPFAR operates.

PEPFAR COP 2015 and Prioritization of Key Populations

The PEPFAR COP 2015 Guidance emphasizes that a new prioritization of resources for epidemic control will focus on locations and populations with the highest burden of disease, with a goal of assisting host country governments to reach 80% coverage of people living with HIV in these locations and populations by September 2017. To make these prioritization decisions, PEPFAR country teams will regularly collect and analyze demographic and epidemiological data to divide program activities geographically and by site into “core, near-core, and non-core,” with core activities receiving funding priority. Of particular relevance to civil society, the Guidance requires PEFPAR country and regional teams to collect data on HIV prevalence and population size estimations among MSM, female sex workers, and people who inject drugs, if and when it is safe to do so.

In addition, the 2015 COP Guidance outlines three key areas for achieving PEPFAR’s human rights agenda: 1) Reducing stigma and discrimination in HIV service delivery/health care settings; 2) Ensuring that data for decision-making is gathered to optimize patient care; and 3) Supporting patient rights and access to quality services. To meet these goals, required actions for PEPFAR country teams include a.) conducting non-discrimination trainings; b.) preparing a Legal Environment Assessment of laws, regulations, and policies that support or hinder the epidemic response; and c.) submitting a two-page assessment of country processes to report stigma/discrimination and violations of patient rights affecting access to services.

For background on PEPFAR’s “5 agendas,” which includes PEPFAR’s epidemic control and human rights agendas, please see the PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-Free Generation document issued by OGAC in 2012, as well as a Community Update conducted by the MSMGF on the implications of the Blueprint for MSM.

Increasing Civil Society Engagement

The PEPFAR COP 2015 Guidance includes new requirements for increasing civil society engagement in the development of each Country Operational Plan. These include four steps required of each PEPFAR country team in the COP planning process: 1) Development of a civil society COP engagement plan; 2) Convening engagement meetings between PEPFAR teams and civil society organizations; 3) Solicitation of written feedback from civil society organizations to PEPFAR teams; and 4) Submission of written feedback back to civil society organizations. The guidance stresses that civil society consultations should occur through a formal structure on a quarterly basis, that a diverse range of civil society organizations including representatives of key populations should be included, and that PEPFAR teams are required to submit civil society recommendations and country team feedback as part of their COP submission.

Call to Action

The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) commends OGAC for its vision and leadership in making policy changes to increase civil society engagement and pursue a human rights agenda through the PEFPAR COP development process. The MSMGF furthermore calls on OGAC to assure that key populations are meaningfully included in civil society consultations and that sufficient funding is allocated to act upon civil society recommendations made in each country and region where PEPFAR operates.

Specifically, the MSMGF calls for OGAC to:

a.       Ensure that MSM and other key populations continue to be prioritized for programming within all PEPFAR recipient countries, irrespective the availability of data. Unavailability of reliable data should not preclude the provision of acceptable, accessible, affordable and safe programs for MSM and other key populations.

b.      As PEPFAR allocations are re-prioritized, provide sufficient funding for each PEPFAR country to ensure data collection on MSM and other key populations is conducted in close consultation with members of those communities, and in a manner that protects the safety and confidentiality of research participants supplying data.  

c.       Commit to securing country buy-in in the COP development process for MSM- and key population-focused work.

d.      Ensure that community-, MSM-, and other key population-led program representatives are meaningfully included in civil society consultations and that these consultations are both transparent and substantive.

e.       Commit to adequate allocation of funds, particularly to smaller, community-, MSM-, key population-led organizations, to meet targets and goals proposed by members of MSM and key population communities in the COP development process.

How to Get Involved

The MSMGF encourages advocates, service providers, and community members of key populations in PEPFAR countries to engage meaningfully in civil society consultations for the PEPFAR COP 2015 development process. As COP submission deadlines are rapidly approaching in April and May 2015, these consultations are likely to be held in the coming weeks. OGAC has highlighted and the MSMGF re-affirms several ways for activists and organizations to play a key role in the development of PEPFAR Country Operational Plans:

 
1.      Contact PEPFAR country teams via your local U.S. Embassy and request information on the specific schedule for civil society engagement meetings in the COP 2015 planning process. Note that OGAC has assigned PEPFAR country teams a COP 2015 submission deadline of either April 3rd or May 1st. As these are both very near-term dates, we emphasize the urgent importance of making contact as soon as possible to confirm specific schedules for civil society consultations in your country. 

2.      Contact civil society networks, coalitions, and coordination platforms working to develop consolidated recommendations for PEPFAR country teams. This is of particular importance to ensure that concerns of MSM and other key populations are included. Where relevant, one potential approach is to use recently submitted Global Fund concept notes to inform the PEPFAR COP.

3.      Provide written requests to PEPFAR country teams for information and data relevant to key populations to be included in the COP submission.

The MSMGF will continue to provide additional information on how to engage with the PEPFAR COP 2015 process as we receive it in the coming weeks and months. We also urge you to report to us any problems or obstacles you may experience, which we can document and report to our contacts at OGAC and with PEPFAR country teams. Please write to the MSMGF’s Senior Policy Advisor Nadia Rafif at nrafif@msmgf.org with any questions or problems you may have.

Kind regards,

The MSMGF


A downloadable PDF version of this guidance is available on the MSMGF website at http://www.msmgf.org/files/msmgf/documents/PEPFAR%20COP%202015%20Community%20Update_March%202015.pdf. 

The MSMGF Launches Kumã-Parlons En: A Francophone Adaptation of the Speaking Out Adapted Toolkit in West Africa

The MSMGF Launches Kumã-Parlons En: A Francophone Adaptation of the Speaking Out Adapted Toolkit in West Africa

The Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF) is pleased to launch Kumã-Parlons En[1], a Francophone adaptation of the Speaking Out toolkit. Originally developed in 2010 by the MSMGF and the Moroccan organization ALCS, this toolkit is designed for use by all organizations in the Francophone West Africa region that advocate for the right to health of MSM.

The “Kumã” Toolkit was adapted through a participatory, training-of-trainers workshop that involved national and regional partners from across the region.  ARCAD-SIDA from Mali, in partnership with ITPC MENA, hosted the training in Marrakesh, Morocco, from November 1 to 5, 2014, and brought together thirteen participants from Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Togo, Burkina Faso, and Mali. Local experts led participatory exercises to facilitate development of advocacy skills relevant to the HIV epidemic response amongst MSM in the region, and to integrate lessons learned into the final version of the toolkit.

By adapting the “Kumã” Toolkit to the Francophone West African context, MSMGF hopes to reinforce existing initiatives in the region. The “Kumã” Toolkit is designed to strengthen local advocacy capacity focused on addressing stigma, discrimination and violence – drivers of the HIV epidemic among MSM. Over the past year, MSMGF supported the development of a brief needs assessment on HIV and MSM in Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, and Togo.  The needs assessment identified and documented important structural and operational factors that promote or hinder HIV services access among MSM in West Africa.

Please visit http://www.msmgf.org/index.cfm/id/372/ to learn more about Speaking Out in West Africa, and to download the “Kumã” Toolkit and the needs assessment. All documents are in French.

Speaking Out Initiative is a technical and funding assistance program to support HIV advocacy efforts and leadership development at the grassroots level for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender activists. For more information about the Speaking Out Advocacy Initiative work in other regions/countries, please visit www.msmgf.org/speakingout.


 


[1] Kumã is a translation of the term “Speaking Out” in Malinke, a language spoken in multiple West African countries. Parlons-En is a translation of “Speaking Out” in French.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Zimbabwean HIV Positive Feminist Martha Tholanah Wins 2015 David Kato Vision & Voice Award



Renowned Ugandan activist Frank Mugisha will present Martha Tholanah with the award on stage at the prestigious Teddy Awards ceremony in Berlin this Friday.

11 February 2015 [Berlin] – The David Kato Vision & Voice Award (DKVVA) is proud to announce that the 2015 award will go to HIV Positive activist Martha Tholanah from Zimbabwe. Martha risks her life everyday to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people across the country. Her activism is a powerful example of a straight ally standing in solidarity with LGBTI people despite threats to her own safety and security.

Martha also demonstrates extraordinary leadership on behalf of other marginalized communities, fighting for women’s rights, disability rights and sex worker rights both locally and internationally. She will receive the award on stage this Friday, at the prestigious Teddy Awards ceremony which is part of the Berlin International Film Festival.

“I am incredibly honored to be given this award that to me symbolizes my struggle against injustice in Zimbabwe and across the globe,” said Martha. “By honoring my work we recognize the human dignity and spirit of every person.”

Inspired by the life and work of David Kato, the human rights activist murdered in his home of Kampala, Uganda in January of 2011, the DKVVA recognizes the leadership of individuals who strive to uphold the human rights of sexual minorities worldwide, particularly in challenging circumstances and unsupportive policy environments. The award provides winners with a global media platform and a $10,000 grant to support their efforts.

The DKVVA is supported by a Secretariat based at the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF). The MSMGF advocates for equitable access to effective HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support services tailored to the needs of gay men and other MSM, including gay men and MSM living with HIV, while promoting their health and human rights worldwide.

“Community-led efforts play a central role in securing LGBT rights,” said Micah Lubensky, Program Manager of the award and Community Mobilization Manager at MSMGF. “Yet so often these crucial efforts go unrecognized and unfunded. Through the David Kato Vision & Voice Award, we are able to provide activists with a platform to elevate the issues that are affecting their communities, as well as much needed funding to sustain and expand their work.”

As a trained family therapy counselor qualified in medical rehabilitation, Martha has established and headed health programs for Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) and the Network of Zimbabwean Positive Women (NZPW+). She currently serves as Chairperson of the Board for GALZ, an organization that has been a long time partner and contributor to MSMGF’s work.

She is currently facing two charges with the Zimbabwe Government linked to her involvement with LGBTI activism. Despite these challenges she remains deeply committed to her efforts and continues to represent GALZ in legally challenging state-sanctioned homophobia and violence.

Martha is also a proud feminist fighting to eliminate sexism in Zimbabwe. She works to make women living with HIV - young women and LBT women more visible in a male-dominated political and social landscape.

"I have been on a long journey to accept myself as an HIV positive African woman. I fight for others to overcome the stigma and discrimination in their lives so that they can find self-love and acceptance too,” Said Martha. “This award strengthens my work with organizations such as GALZ and NZPW+. On the day I receive this award, my wish is that the violence and discrimination in Zimbabwe finally stop, and that all people will come together to end discrimination against marginalized communities worldwide.”

Frank Mugisha, Chair of the David Kato Vision & Voice Award and Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), will present Martha with the award on stage at the Teddy Award ceremonythis Saturday in Berlin.

“Martha’s voice and vision inspire hope for a world where injustice toward any and all marginalized communities is no longer tolerated,” said George Ayala, David Kato Vision & Voice Award Advisory Committee Member and Executive Director of MSMGF. “As we celebrate her life and work, we commemorate David Kato’s legacy and recognize the often dangerous efforts of individuals like David and Martha, who demonstrate what human rights and equality really look like.”

Media Contact
Micah Lubensky
+1.510.849.6437
mlubensky@msmgf.org

Read more about Martha Tholanah’s life and work here.

The David Kato Vision & Voice Award (DKVVA) recognizes and supports the work of leaders who strive to uphold the human rights and dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world. More information about the DKVVA can be found at http://www.visionandvoiceaward.com .

The Teddy Award is an award given at the Berlin International Film Festival, celebrating films and individuals that communicate queer themes and content on a large scale and contribute to more tolerance, acceptance, solidarity and equality in society. Learn more athttp://news.teddyaward.tv/en/ .

 
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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Alexia Bukely: Activism without Borders


Alexia Bukely - Activism without Borders






As the David Kato Vision & Voice Award (DKVVA) begins to celebrate its fourth year, we continue to receive hundreds of nominations of phenomenal activists for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights around the world. With the announcement of this 2015 winner coming up on February 13th at the renowned Teddy Awards in Berlin, we are honored to introduce you to the  incredible people who have been shortlisted for this year’s award.

Today we highlight prominent LGBTI activist Alexia Bukely from El Salvador. Please read her story below!

Alexia Bukely is a leading transgender activist from El Salvador. In 2000 she founded Fraternidad Gay Sin Fronteras, bringing cultural activities to the Salvadoran LGBTI community while also pressuring local officials to denounce human rights abuse and promote HIV prevention and treatment services for vulnerable populations.

Although anti-discrimination laws exist in El Salvador,  the LGBTI community is still a major target for prejudice and abuse and while steadily strengthening its health care system to address HIV and AIDS, epidemic levels continue to plague vulnerable communities – making Alexia’s work with Fraternidad Gay Sin Fronteras all the more crucial. In 2007 Alexia’s organization was granted legal recognition, becoming the first NGO human rights group dedicated to LGBTI issues in El Salvador.

Alexia recognized the need for human rights initiatives organized around LGBTI issues when she was an adolescent.  After being kicked out of her home for her sexual orientation, Alexia was driven to start a group offering community, safety and artistic expression for the Salvadoran LGBTI population. This group grew to become Fraternidad Gay Sin Fronteras. It was among these friends that Alexia first came out as transgender.

Many of Alexia’s colleagues were HIV positive during this time, and Alexia soon understood the intricacies and impact of HIV and AIDS among vulnerable communities. In this way, Fraternidad Gay Sin Fronteras expanded to include and advocate for not just sexual minorities but people living with HIV and AIDS, sex workers, people with disabilities, and LGBTI youth.

Alexia was emboldened to create a space to speak out about the issues affecting those who are doubly persecuted, recognizing that these individuals are not only oppressed by society at large, but also within the LGBTI community itself.

Alexia soon began an initiative to speak at universities, government institutions, NGOs and other venues, educating and making visible issues particular to those populations who are doubly, even triply discriminated against. She also began the first national campaign to recognize May 17 as the National Day against Homophobia in El Salvador. 

Alexia has made great strides with her activism in El Salvador - remaining thoughtful and self-reflexive throughout her community building. Her commitment and dedication reveal the invaluable role activists play in making change happen on a local, national and global scale.

The DKVVA is supported by a Secretariat based at the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF). The MSMGF advocates for equitable access to effective HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support services tailored to the needs of gay men and other MSM, including gay men and MSM living with HIV, while promoting their health and human rights worldwide. You can find more information about the MSMGF at www.msmgf.org

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