Speaking Out Initiative

MSM-Led HIV and AIDS Advocacy

The MSMGF designed the Speaking Out Initiative in 2010 for a broad, global audience, with a rationale that expanding access to effective and tailored HIV programs must go hand-in-hand with strategies for supporting and resourcing rights- based advocacy.  The MSMGF recognizes that when human rights are protected, fewer people become infected, and those living with HIV and their families are better able to cope with the virus.  This is especially important for sexual minorities and other marginalized groups.

In 2011, the Speaking Out Initiative was adapted as a new technical and funding assistance pilot program. The long-germ aim is to support HIV advocacy efforts and leadership development at the grassroots level, conducted by and on behalf of MSM and trans advocates. Through context-appropriate adaptations and applications, the Initiative strove for broader structural change implications at the national and regional levels.  Following implementation, Speaking Out evolved from having a regional advocacy focus, to become part of a wider community system strengthening process.

 Speaking Out’s 3 programmatic goals are:

  1. Identifying, naming, and mapping stigma, discrimination, injustice, and violence targeted toward gay men, other MSM and transgender people in a specific city/region, with a particular focus on how these factors undermine the AIDS response
  2. Supporting the development and implementation of locally generated advocacy Initiatives to address the issues identified and, more broadly, to influence structural factors that impinge upon the ability of MSM to access HIV services and fulfill their human rights
  3. Supporting the self-realization and empowerment of MSM and transgender communities through the act of community education and organizing for advocacy, including support for leadership development

Evaluation of the Speaking Out  Initiative:  Findings from the Pilot Stage: 2011-2012

The MSMGF published an in-depth evaluation of the organization’s Speaking Out Initiative, a technical and funding assistance program to support HIV advocacy efforts and leadership development for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people at the grassroots level. Conducted by Health & Development Consulting International LLC (HDCi), the independent third-party evaluation uses a combination of literature review and 20 key informant interviews to assess the program’s processes and its ultimate impact on the ability of MSM and transgender people to access HIV services and fulfill their human rights.

Several donors funded the Initiative’s pilot phase, including the Levi Strauss Foundation (LSF), Hivos, ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action Program, and UNAIDS. Through the pilot period (2011–2012), the MSMGF implemented Speaking Out in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Central America, and Asia (Viet Nam). A total of 65 MSM and transgender advocates graduated from the Speaking Out ToT, based on the global Speaking Out advocacy Toolkit adapted locally and translated into French, Spanish, and Vietnamese. In Honduras, the MSMGF took Speaking Out a step further, funding Breakthrough Advocacy Initiatives that address stigma and discrimination based on skills and tools learned from the ToT process.

This independent third-party evaluation was conducted at the transition from pilot phase to full implementation, and aims to determine (1) how effective the Speaking Out process is for communities engaging in advocacy initiatives, and how closely implementation met the stated plan; and (2) the Initiative’s impact toward identifying, naming, mapping, and conducting advocacy on issues that impinge upon the ability of MSM and transgender people to access HIV services and fulfill their human rights. In addition to literature review, the consultant conducted 20 key informant interviews with ToT participants, implementation partners, donors, and MSMGF managers.

An Executive Summary of HDCi’s evaluation of the Speaking Out Initiative can be found on the MSMGF’s website. The full 89-page report can be found here.

The Speaking Out Initiative was funded by Levi Strauss Foundation, Hivos, and ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action Program. For more information about the Speaking Out Initiative, please contact Nadia Rafif.

Regional Information

The Speaking Out Initiative was adapted as a new technical and funding assistance pilot program in the following regions:


Arabic Language Speaking Out

Aali Soutak is an Arabic language 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 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.

Dowload the Arabic toolkit.


West Africa

The Kumã-Parlons En is 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.

Download the French toolkit


Cambodia

The Cambodian Speaking Out adapted toolkit reflects the reality of MSM, HIV, and health services in the country. This toolkit is in Khmer and includes information, data, and examples from the Cambodia context responding to local advocacy needs.

Download the Khmer toolkit

Download Cambodian Toolkit English version


Honduras & Central America

The MSMGF and Asociación Kukulcan worked together to adapt a global toolkit suited to the Honduran and Central American context, recruit and train 72 MSM and transgender advocates, and fund two small advocacy breakthrough initiatives from 2011 to 2013 in Honduras and Central America.

Download Honduras & Central America Toolkit


Kenya

The MSMGF partnered with Isthar MSM based in Nairobi to adapt and contextualize the English version of the MSMGF’s global advocacy toolkit, Speaking Out, to the Kenyan context and train 15 Kenyan advocates in 2012.

Download Kenyan Toolkit


North Africa

The MSMGF partnered with Association de Lutte Contre le Sida Maroc (ALCS) in Morocco to launch, plan and implement the “Speaking Out” initiative in the region.

Download North African Toolkit


Vietnam

The MSMGF partnered with G-Link, an MSM-led organization based in Ho Chi Minh City to adapt and contextualize the English version of the MSMGF’s global advocacy toolkit, Speaking Out, to the Vietnamese context, and to train advocates in Vietnam.

Download Vietnam Toolkit


Video Testimonials

Serge Douomong, Cameroon

Serge Douomong is an advocate from Cameroon and is the Executive Director at Affirmative Action. Serge speaks about his experience working for and with gay men and other MSM in his country to provide HIV services and advocacy work in Cameroon.


Younes Yatine, Morocco

Younes Yatine, an advocate from Morocco, works at Association de Lutte Contre le Sida Maroc (ALCS). Yatine shares his experience working for and with gay men and other MSM in his country, including family support, working with government offices, and other local and regional partners to advance HIV work in the Middle East North Africa region. (Speaking Out training participant in Morocco in 2012; member of the M-Coalition Steering Committee; Lebanon, January 2014).


Badr Baabou, Tunisia

Badr Baabou, an advocate from Tunisia, works at Association Tunisienne de Lutte Contre les Maladies Sexuellement Transmissible (ATL). Baabou shares his experience working for and with gay men and other MSM in his country, including family support, working with government offices, and other local and regional partners to advance HIV work in the Middle East North Africa region. (Speaking Out training participant in Morocco in 2012; member of the M-Coalition Steering Committee; Lebanon, January 2014).


Han Bunvireak, Cambodia

Han Bunvireak, gay advocate living with HIV from Cambodia, shares his experience working on human rights, HIV, community organizing, and other salient issues and challenges gay men, bisexual men, and transgender women face in his home country. (Speaking Out training participant, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, August 2013).


Srorn Srun, Cambodia

Srorn Srun, gay advocate from Cambodia, shares his experience working on human rights, HIV, community organizing, and other salient issues and challenges gay men, bisexual men, and transgender women face in his home country. (Speaking Out training participant, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, August 2013).


Le Thanh, G-Link, Vietnam

Le Thanh, Executive Director at G-Link, based in Ho Chi Minh City, talks about the challenges gay men, bisexual men, other MSM, and transgender women face in Vietnam, including HIV services, access to healthcare, and stigma and discrimination, among other important issues to the lives of gay men and other MSM. (Speaking Out training co-facilitator, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam).


Peter Njane, Ishtar MSM, Kenya

Peter Njane is the Executive Director at Ishtar MSM in Nairobi, Kenya. Njane shares his experience working for and with gay men and other MSM in his country, including family support, working with government offices, and other local and regional partners to advance HIV work. (Speaking Out training participant in Nairobi, Kenya, December 2012).


Javier Medina, Asociacion Kukulcan, Honduras

Javier Medina, Executive Director, Asociacion Kukulcan, talks about the challenges gay me, bisexual men, other MSM, and transgender women face in Honduras, including HIV funding and resources, forming alliances, human rights, and access to healthcare. (Speaking Out training co-facilitator, Honduras, 2011, 2012, and 2013).


Alfredo Ocampo Ortega, Nicaragua

Alfredo Ocampo Ortega, gay advocate from Nicaragua, shares his experience working on human rights, HIV, young gay men, and other salient issues and challenges gay men, bisexual men, and transgender women face in his home country. (Speaking Out training participant, Tela, Honduras, March 2012).


Edwin Hernandez, ASPIDH-Arcoiris, El Salvador

Edwin Hernández, gay advocate from El Salvador, shares his experience working on human rights, HIV, community organizing, and other salient issues and challenges gay men, bisexual men, and transgender women face in his home country. (Speaking Out training participant, La Ceiba Honduras, February 2013).


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