The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) is deeply saddened by the passing of Shivananda Khan, founder and chief executive of Naz Foundation International (NFI), chairperson of the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM), and founding member of the MSMGF.
“Shiv was unafraid and fierce in his advocacy on behalf of gay men and transgender people,” shared Dr. George Ayala, Executive Director of the MSMGF. “He was a fiery powerhouse who deliberately mixed piercing cultural analysis with wit and humor to model effective activism.”
Shivananda, known affectionately as Shiv, campaigned tirelessly to develop meaningful HIV services for men who have sex with men (MSM) throughout South Asia, leading powerful grassroots initiatives and putting pressure on governments, multilateral agencies, and donors to acknowledge the disproportionate impact of HIV on MSM. He was relentless in his work to defend the right to equitable access to effective HIV services for MSM, assembling diverse and sometimes conflicting partners to achieve crucial victories for the health and human rights of our communities.
Shiv brought a nuanced understanding of gender identity and the diversity of male intimacy to his advocacy, many times challenging stigma tied to feminine gender expression and pushing back against the secondary status associated with femininity.
“Shiv was insistent that HIV and rights movements be nuanced in their consideration of gender and power inequities,” said Dr. Ayala. “He was a champion for us girly boys and boyish girls alike. Shiv understood the importance of honoring individual choice in the terms people use to describe their sexual attractions and gender identities and in so doing reminded us that naming ourselves is an ultimate act of agency.”
Shiv challenged violence, both structural and physical, and he and his colleagues endured countless threats, arrests, and police raids in response to their work. Yet he pressed on, undaunted and unwavering in his work to support our communities. In 2005, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his efforts across Asia.
Shiv leaves us too soon and our communities worldwide are left mourning the irreplaceable loss of a central figure in the movement to advance the health and human rights of marginalized populations. He was a world-renowned leader and hero to many who share in the same struggle for the health and human rights for all. We will miss him deeply as we work to carry forward his legacy.