Improving access to HIV testing, prevention and care for MSM, WSW and TGs across the Middle East/North Africa through investment in grassroots LGBT civil society
M. French, G. Azzi
The Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE), Beirut, Lebanon
Issues: Strong civil society is needed to
respond to rights and protections needs of MSM, WSW and TGs across the Middle
East/North Africa (MENA); with improved rights and protections, these sexual
minorities will benefit from improved access to HIV testing, prevention and
care. While strong civil society will improve HIV service provision,
grassroots activists operate with a considerable lack in capacity and access to
financial resources, limiting work they are able to accomplish.
Description: The Arab Foundation for Freedoms
and Equality (AFE) was created to invest heavily in grassroots LGBT civil
society. Investments support the movement for sexual minorities rights and
protections, which in turn reduce social stigma surrounding sexual
orientation/gender identity (SOGI). Reduced stigma improves access to HIV
services for sexual minorities.
AFE invests in grassroots LGBT
civil society by providing:
Lessons learned: As demonstrated through the work
of Helem (an AFE partner), a human rights approach is considered a “best
practice” for addressing e in MENA. AFE's work regionalizes this “best
practice,” adapting and replicating it across the region.
- Capacity building
- Providing targeted capacity building initiatives
- Facilitating regional learning exchanges between
- Coordinating internships with established NGOs working
- Core funding
- There are few grant mechanisms allowing nascent
activist groups and organizations access to basic operational funding.
AFE addresses this need, acting as a regionally-based funding channel,
applying for funds from large donors and regranting to activists in MENA.
- Emergency assistance
- Coordinating and documenting emergency responses
for LGBT human rights defenders and non-activist individuals
Next steps: AFE will dialogue with donors
focused on basic HIV prevention and care to observe successes of both AFE's
current partners and Helem. AFE will use these successes to broaden donors'
funding priorities to include comprehensive human rights approaches when
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