New Research Agenda unveiled at AIDS 2014. Imagine a pill that neutralized hate?

September 10, 2014

Imagine a pill that could eradicate hate in our communities. How much faster could we end AIDS with Post-Hate Exposure Prophylaxis (PHEP)?

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“Imagine “Post-hate exposure prophylaxis,” allowing people to self-medicate after exposure to hateful, homophobic or transphobic language, whether from religious fundamentalists, Fox News or family. (Excerpt from Garcia AIDS2014 Plenary Session Speech)

During AIDS2014 Laurindo Garcia said that we are not only living amongst an epidemic of HIV infection, but an epidemic of hate. What does this mean for us?

Living in this epidemic of hate, means that access to basic HIV prevention services is limited, so that the artillery that we have to fight HIV infection such as HIV testing, pre-exposure prophylaxes (PrEP) or treatment as prevention is unlikely to have much impact. Garcia says, “In 81 countries around the world, the idea of a health intervention for trans people, gay men and other MSM is to beat us up or throw us in jail.

Scientific and medical advances in HIV prevention, care and treatment stand little chance of reaching MSM, transgender and other key affected populations if there are no parallel efforts to address human rights.

The UN Report ‘HIV in Asia and the Pacific: Getting to Zero’ (2013) finds the rates of new HIV infections are growing fastest amongst MSM men. Could this disproportionate burden be linked to homophobic laws, HIV criminalization laws, and the violence, persecution that MSM and LGBTI faces from the state, families and societies? Amidst this environment, HIV and STIS rates remain stubbornly high amongst MSM and transgender populations. It is estimated that within the next three years, up to 50 percent of new HIV infections in Asia and the Pacific will occur within MSM communities.

Amongst youth, hate- -fueled bullying, stigma and discrimination contribute to risk of social isolation, suicide and HIV infection. While we dream of a pill that can neutralize hate, help us end HIV now by building awareness and empathy in your community for transgender people, gay men and other groups most affected by HIV.

The HIV Advocates platform shares game-changing, community-led advocacy from around the world.

Grupo Pela Vidda releases cultural advocacy products such as books, which document the experiences of discrimination, injustice and vulnerability to HIV of tansgender people in Brazil. In Mexico, a group of journalists, lawyers and activists under the banner of Letra S. use innovative mix of media advocacy and provision of legal assistance in order to contest HIV stigma. Meanwhile, organizations such as E.V.A in Russia join global call for action against homophobia and transphobia #May17IDAHOT to protect LGBT expression, and end intimidation and violence.

#StopBullying #HelpEndHIV

 

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The MSMGF Speaking Out Initiative for HIV Advocates finds its voice in Honduras and Central America: Part 2

June 16, 2014

 

By Kieran Kennedy

 

The Speaking Out Initiative is run by MSMGF and focuses on addressing the health and human rights needs of MSM. It aims to support HIV advocacy efforts and leadership at the grassroots by training MSM and transgender people to protect their rights.


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Edwin Hernández (ASPIDH-Arcoiris), is a gay and transgender advocate from El Salvador. S/he participated in the Speaking Out training that took place in La Ceiba Honduras in February 2013. Edwin began her advocacy in 1995 when many from her community were dying of AIDS and violence against gay people was at a very high level. Like other participants, Edwin was impressed by the practical orientation of the Speaking Out training and the inclusion of dynamic fieldwork: “The workshop puts to the test the actual tools necessary for activism, how we could make actual changes to legislation. It was spectacular. We went out into the street and worked with others.”  

 

Edwin described how the Speaking Out training emphasized the need for written plans to tackle the various human rights issues faced by LGBT people in El Salvador. Written plans have facilitated a more thorough and effective response to violence directed towards gay and trans* people. S/he and other activists have been able to achieve greater visibility for the murders of LGBT people by completing a plan for documentation and denunciation in both domestic and international forums.

 

Edwin has become a lot more systematic in her approach to advocacy in the wake of the Speaking Out training. For example, in the 2012 election held for parliamentary deputies, the only action taken on behalf of transgender rights was a press conference that did not garner a response from any of the political parties. In February 2014 during the presidential election, Edwin and other advocates attempted a different approach. S/he and other advocates spearheaded a thorough analysis of their approach for the promotion of transgender rights. They decided to seek a written commitment from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal that transgender people would not be prevented from voting by homophobic election officials who rejected their identity papers. They orchestrated a coordinated advocacy campaign involving letter-writing and radio and television appearances. They succeeded in securing a statement defending the rights of trans* people to vote from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. This statement was broadcast nationally and no judges publicly came out against the statement – a significant step toward the human rights of trans* people in El Salvador.

 

Advocates including Edwin are now seeking amendments to the electoral code at the national level to enshrine protections based on sexual and gender identity. Members of the LGBT community were official observers in the recent elections. The positive statement of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal is an encouraging sign that these efforts will ultimately be successful. Edwin summarizes what s/he learned about effective advocacy from Speaking Out: “Write a plan, describe actions, and then take them.”

 

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The MSMGF Speaking Out Initiative for HIV Advocates finds its voice in Honduras and Central America

May 27, 2014

 

By Kieran Kennedy

 

The Speaking Out Initiative is run by MSMGF and focuses on addressing the health and human rights needs of MSM. It aims to support HIV advocacy efforts and leadership at the grassroots by training MSM and transgender people to protect their rights.

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Marco Polo Yáncor (Colectivo Amigos Contra el Sida) is a Guatemalan gay man who became politically active on behalf of LGBT rights when he moved to Quezaltenango city in 2005. He describes himself as someone who can be easily identified as gay. Consequently, he was the target of stigma and bullying growing up in Guatamala. The lack of sexual orientation and gender identity protection legislation in Guatamala propelled Marco Polo to learn more about his rights as a citizen and to help empower others. As a result of his activism, his sexual identity is a matter of public knowledge to his immediate and extended family. He counts himself fortunate that he has been able to introduce his partners to his family and to participate with them in holiday celebrations like Christmas.

 

Marco Polo spends a lot of his time helping to build a stronger, more unified LGBT community in Guatemala. He helps organize “noches culturales” where members of the LGBT can share talents such as singing or playing an instrument. While these get-togethers are fun and supportive, they also provide a space where people can begin to address human rights issues. When he learned about the Speaking Out training, Marco Polo was drawn to it as an opportunity to gain a broader vocabulary and tools for his political activism. He participated in the 2013 training in La Ceiba, Honduras.

 

For me, Speaking Out was an empowering experience that helps me do my activist work more confidently,” Marco Polo reports. The exercises in the workshop he attended helped him see how to claim a space for LGBT people in the public sphere. For example, because of advocacy by Marco Polo and others, language recognizing and protecting LGBT people was added to city regulations in the municipality of Quezaltenango.

 

Marco Polo asserted that Speaking Out not only strengthened his character and confidence but also afforded him the opportunity to connect with a group of LGBT activists across Honduras and Central America. “By doing exercises with activists from Nicaragua and El Salvador, I recognized that we have many issues in common,” he says. The shared human rights issues across the region sparked the idea of a Central American support network of LGBT organizations. The leadership for this network would come from the region. As local activists take ownership of this process, MSMGF can continue to help support what they envision.

 

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IDAHO Rally in Hong Kong

May 21, 2008

Homophobia is a crime and over 300 peoples rallied in a busy street of Causeway bay in Hong Kong on May 18 to mark the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). The rally was full of songs, story telling and even a “die-in” action to protest against homophobia and fight for equal rights for sexual minorities. The SO-U.TV team filmed the joyful protest. Go to http://www.so-u.tv to watch the highlights.

IDAHO Hong Kong