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, 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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Boban Stojanović: Working at the Margins

Boban Stojanović - Working at the Margins




“I love the social margin; this is where the strongest desire to live dwells.”

 Today we are honored to introduce Boban Stojanović and spotlight his amazing advocacy efforts in Serbia – Boban is one of 5 incredible people who have been shortlisted for this year’s David Kato Vision & Voice Award.


Boban Stojanović was born in 1978 in Zaječar, a small city in Eastern Serbia. Boban suffered mistreatment and abuse at the hands of his alcoholic father growing up, and this early exposure to domestic violence prompted him to get involved with activism at an early age. In his youth Boban worked with local NGO’s countering violence against women.

During the nineties, as war in what was formerly Yugoslavia raged on, Boban refused to join the army as a form of resistance to the ruling regime.  Boban was one of the most prominent activists to refuse serving in the army, and one of the loudest voices asking for termination of mandatory army service.

During this time, Boban volunteered in refugee centers across Serbia where he mainly worked with Roma children and children who had lost parents in the war. Through this work he came into contact with peace activists and began working alongside them toward non-violent social change.

In 2000 Boban moved to Belgrade where he soon came out as gay among only a handful of other publicly recognizable LGBT activists and gay people. Boban’s outspoken advocacy posed a considerable threat to his personal safety and put him at great risk. He was physically assaulted in public several times while receiving ongoing verbal harassment.

Boban’s home was attacked and vandalized twice, both in 2013 and 2014. In 2013 his home was set on fire and swastikas were spray painted on the walls. In 2014 unknown assailants broke the apartment windows by throwing stones. Boban and his partner are now forced to live in secret at an undisclosed location. He has filed several hundred criminal charges because of these threats, but only a handful of them have been processed so far, yet the harassment has only intensified.

In 2005, Boban founded the Queeria Centre. Beyond focusing on LGBT rights in Serbia, the Queeria Center engages and increases awareness among Serbia’s youth; promoting public education about LGBT issues. Through creative campaigns to advocate LGBT rights, the Queeria Center works toward a more tolerant Serbian society.

Boban was also very involved in promoting the Serbian Anti-Discrimination Law. After intense debate and fierce opposition, Serbian Parliament passed the Anti-Discrimination Law in 2009. Boban’s advocacy played an important role in the process.

Due to his public activism, Boban was disowned by part of his own family. In Serbia, this is the fate that awaits most of the people who are courageous enough to come out publically.

For almost two decades of activism, Boban has supported every vulnerable population in Serbia: National and religious minorities, women, children, persons living with disabilities, and refugees. He especially focuses on helping those who are doubly discriminated, individuals who are the most marginalized and especially vulnerable: People living with HIV, sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM), and other queer populations.

In an interview Boban gave in 2013 he explained why he supports those who are the most ignored and overlooked in society by saying, “I love the social margin, this is where the strongest desire to live dwells,” A powerful testament to the strength and character of those marginalized in Serbian society.


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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Monday, February 9, 2015

Linda R.M. Bauman: Gender Equality and LGBTI Rights in Namibia

Linda R.M. Bauman - Gender Equality and LGBTI Rights in Namibia


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 5 incredible people who have been shortlisted for this year’s award.

Today we highlight prominent LGBTI and women’s rights activist Linda R.M. Bauman. Linda is the Executive Director of the LGBTI Rights group Out-Right Namibia. Despite numerous threats and targeted attacks for her advocacy, Linda R.M. Bauman continues her work to raise the voices of the LGBTI community in Namibia and promote gender equality. Please read her story below.


Linda R.M. Bauman is one of Namibia’s leading human rights activists. Established in 2010, Linda founded Out-Right Namibia (ORN) alongside fellow activists passionate about advocating for lesbian women, gay men, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI).  Linda aims to address, fight, and eliminate the homophobia that is so prevalent in her home of Namibia, a country where homosexuality is outlawed. As the Executive Director of ORN, Linda prioritizes leadership development, human rights, movement-building and legal reform.

Linda also believes in empowering young woman, and she is invested in creating support group systems for girls living in Namibia. Linda significantly contributed to the Namibian Girl Child Association – working to promote gender equality and assist women with legal aid. Linda is a trained paralegal and chaired the Namibian Paralegal Association from 2006 to 2010. 

Linda was the first lesbian woman to produce and present a Namibian radio program focused specifically on LGBTI issues in the country. The first of its kind entitled, Talking Pink, the show ran for 2 years and aired on Base FM radio. Talking Pink created great debates in Namibia and incited controversial discussions making Linda into a target. Despite receiving threats she persisted with the show.

Linda currently serves as chair for the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA).  MISA is an NGO focusing on the need to promote free, independent and pluralistic media that broadcasts diversity.

She is one of the few women in Namibia currently starring on a weekly National Television Program, The Week that Was. Linda serves as a media commentator on the show and reviews and discusses key issues affecting the country, making her highly visible as an out gay woman in Namibia – a very courageous albeit dangerous position.

As a human rights defender Linda is very active in a number of local NGO forums and organizations. She is currently serving the Management Committee Chairperson for Women’s Solidarity Namibia; a local women’s organization working on gender based violence and human rights violations for women and young girls.

Linda continues her struggle for equality as outspoken activist and director of ORN. Her achievements are an example to admire in the international struggle for LGBTI justice and women’s rights.


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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Dominique Menoga: Fighting for Change in Cameroon

Dominique Menoga: Fighting for Change in Cameroon


With the announcement of the 2015 David Kato Vision and Voice Award winner coming up on February 13th at the renowned Teddy Awards in Berlin, we are honored to introduce you to the 5 incredible people who have been shortlisted for this year’s award.

Today, we are thrilled to present Dominque Menoga from Cameroon.  Dominique has fearlessly campaigned for HIV advocacy among sexual minorities, putting his life on the line and founding multiple human rights organizations in his home of Cameroon. Dominique‘s activism has made him into a target for violence and harassment many times - after receiving numerous death threats he was forced to flee to France where he continues his activism to this day.


Born in Yaoundé, Cameroon in 1982, Dominique recognized the need for effective LGBTI advocacy after coming out to his parents as a teenager. His experience of severe alienation as well as physical and emotional abuse from his parents forced him to reflect on the ignorance surrounding LGBTI people.  Dominique quickly realized the need for advocacy initiatives in Cameroon, and began mobilizing himself and his friends around efforts to increase awareness and fight homophobia.

In 2006, after a spate of homophobic attacks in Cameroon, Dominique and his friends galvanized to form Alternatives-Cameroon. Comprised of a team of doctors, lawyers, and other healthcare providers who are also activists, Alternatives-Cameroon aims to reduce the impact and spread of HIV among MSM, as well as fight widespread homophobia in Cameroon.

During his time with Alternatives-Cameroon, Dominque provided meaningful leadership as a peer educator, working with men who have sex with men (MSM) and other LGBTI people to raise awareness on STI/HIV/AIDS testing, treatment, and prevention. He also provided much-needed counseling for young sexual minorities who often face rejection and discrimination from their families and peers – something Dominique deeply identifies with. In this way Dominique shaped and established one of the most accessible safe spaces for the LGBTI people of Cameroon, allowing them to come together and find community in a country where sexual minorities face intense homophobia and hostility.

Between 2008 and 2009, Dominique and friends created ADEPEV Association (Action for Development and Fulfillment Vulnerable Persons). Dominique served as deputy head of ADEPEV, where he organized and supervised his team.

In addition to its work against AIDS, ADEPEV established a legal section, which deals primarily with conflicts within the gay community, and has launched lobbying efforts at the national level. ADEPEV is now 100 members strong and still growing.

In November 2010, Dominique was selected to participate in two different LGBTI human rights trainings. Informed and emboldened once these trainings came to a close, he resigned from his position with ADEPEV and joined forces with his best friend, the late activist Eric Lembembe, to form The Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS (CAMFAIDS). Dominique acted as founding president of CAMFAIDS, an organization working to increase HIV awareness.

One of the achievements Dominique is most proud of is the Open Letter to the President of Cameroon on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and the criminalization of sexual relations between persons of the same sex in Cameroon, which he wrote with Eric Lembembe.  The letter documented cases of violations of the rights of LGBTI people. These violations were contrary to United Nations treaties that Cameroon had signed and ratified.

Another great accomplishment was his report sent to the United Nations for the UN Universal Periodic Review for Cameroon in 2013.  This report was developed in partnership with organizations working on human rights in Cameroon and with the support of ILGA.

Dominique was forced to apply for asylum in 2013 after receiving death threats due to his high-profile activism in Cameroon. He was granted asylum in France, where he continues his HIV advocacy work with vulnerable populations. Despite putting his life at great risk, Dominique is an inspiring example of a change-maker providing profound leadership in the face of challenging, life-threatening circumstances.


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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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

3 Weeks Left! David Kato Vision & Voice Award Nominations Close Dec. 31!

**Please Circulate Widely**

Three Weeks Left! 
Nominations for the 2015 David Kato Vision & Voice Award Close Dec 31!

Who inspires you? 

The David Kato Vision & Voice award celebrates the life and work of Ugandan human rights activist David Kato, who was murdered in his Kampala home in January 2011. To honor David’s legacy, the DKVVA was founded to recognize leaders who work to uphold the sexual rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world.

Offered once every year to an inspirational individual who demonstrates courage and outstanding leadership in advocacy for LGBTI sexual rights, the award provides the recipient with a one-time grant of $10,000 to support their work.

Nominations for the award close on 31 December 2014 and can be completed online:

English: http://tinyurl.com/qd7djus
Spanish: http://tinyurl.com/kuhm9u8
French: http://tinyurl.com/lt7m2k3

If the hyperlinks above do not work, please copy and paste the URL into your browser.

For more information please visit www.visionandvoiceaward.com. Any questions can be directed to info@visionandvoiceaward.com. To learn more about David Kato, visit the website of the award-winning film “Call Me Kuchu,” which follows the last year of David’s life.

Read this message in Spanish or French.

Monday, December 8, 2014

New Report: Global Consultation on Gay Men & the HIV Treatment Cascade




New Report on Gay Men & the HIV Treatment Cascade

Global consultation documents best practices, key principles, and practical approaches for engaging MSM in HIV treatment

Dear all,

Earlier this year, the MSMGF partnered with the Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation to host a global consultation on increasing engagement in the treatment cascade for gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) living with HIV. The final report from this consultation is now available, focused on informing the program and research agenda for HIV diagnosis, linkage to care, retention in care, access to medicine, and viral suppression for MSM.


Bringing together 30 community leaders and HIV experts from around the world, many of them MSM living with HIV, this gathering helped document best practices, key principles, and practical approaches for optimizing HIV treatment. Discussions included a focus on optimizing provision of all aspects of HIV-related care and mitigating barriers to services, with an emphasis on legally and socially constrained environments.  The meeting also produced a range of implementation science research questions that will ultimately help strengthen access to and delivery of HIV-related services among MSM.

The importance of resourcing community and community-led efforts and acknowledging their central role in the delivery of effective HIV-related care was stressed by all of the participants. Other key issues discussed during the consultation and highlighted in the report are:

  1. Variation in how and where care is delivered and the need for flexibility to maximize reach
  2. Social context and its influence on service delivery
  3. The need for equal partnerships between community-led and clinical services in care delivery initiatives
  4. Acceptability, accessibility, affordability, sensitivity, and quality of care services
  5. Ethical obligation of healthcare providers to serve in socially and legally constrained policy environments
  6. Meaningful involvement of MSM and MSM living with HIV in program planning and development, without exception
  7. Use of internet communications technology in service delivery models, especially in policy constrained settings
  8. Funding for community-led programs

The meeting and final report will help to inform the World Health Organization’s plan for operationalizing the agency’s 2013 HIV Treatment Guidelines and the 2014 Consolidated Guidelines on HIV Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment and Care for Key Populations.

If you have any further questions regarding this report, please contact Ifeoma Udoh, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation, Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation at iudoh@pgaf.org.  

Kindest regards,

The MSMGF