PANOS CARIBBEAN — A publication documenting the stories of 32 Jamaican men who have sex with men (MSM) will be released today, Monday, September 30 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.
The publication, titled Speaking Out! Voices of Jamaican MSM, highlights the issues that affect MSM, including high levels of stigma, discrimination and homophobia, homelessness and abuse, education and law enforcement considerations, as well as HIV and health challenges.
"This publication is designed to foster informed public debate and contribute additional information to the existing body of knowledge about MSM issues in Jamaica," said Arelys Yanez, executive director of Panos Caribbean, the organisation publishing the booklet.
The launch will feature speakers from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Kingston, Panos Caribbean, World Learning, Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, and the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays.
The publication was completed under a project Panos is implementing in collaboration with World Learning — a non-profit organisation with operations in 77 countries, which is committed to addressing pressing global issues — and with financial support from USAID.
In the nine chapters of the publication, the experiences of 31 men and one boy are documented. It weighs in on the issues of homophobia and its effects, HIV, access to health care and general issues surrounding the MSM community in Jamaica.
As part of the project, 26 MSM were trained through three two-day oral testimony workshops held in Kingston, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. They subsequently went out and collected the 32 oral testimonies from other MSM.
The project’s overall objective is to strengthen the capacity of MSM in Jamaica to advocate and create awareness about the issues affecting them and to promote, through the media, tolerance and accountability towards MSM in response to HIV.
"The workshops were an important step in achieving one of the key objectives of the project, which is to strengthen the capacities of MSM in Jamaica to communicate their concerns through innovative communication methodologies," said Yanez.
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