Moving from Intentions to Action

Published: November 5, 2009

The Second International Expert Meeting on HIV Prevention for Men who have sex with Men (MSM), Women who have sex with Women (WSW), and Transgenders (TG) brought together 130 activist, community representatives and experts from the areas of policy, research, funding, and implementation of programmes. The format of the Expert Meeting was a mixture of expert presentations on a wide variety of issues concerning sexual minorities, such as decriminalization and destigmatisation; best practices and novel approaches in prevention, or knowledge gaps in social, behavioural and epidemiological research; workshops to discuss and produce recommendations on policy and research issues; and expert panel discussions. The Second Expert Meeting took place in a different, overall more enabling environment than the First Expert Meeting on HIV Prevention for MSM and WSW (September 2007). Over the last two years, a series of positive developments have created a window of opportunity for action in favour of sexual minorities. Among those favourable changes are the repeal of the sodomy stipulation from the Indian penal code by the High Court of India in the summer of 2009, the publication of policies on sexual minorities by major global actors, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund), UNAIDS and UNDP (2008/2009); and the repeal of anti-homosexuality legislation in most remaining Latin American countries in which they still existed (2008). Among the main themes that emerged during the meeting were: 

a) Continued validity of the human rights based approach 


The human rights based approach, i.e. to embed the work on sexual minorities firmly in a human rights context, continues to be crucial. Human rights violations against MSM, WSW and TGs continue around the world on a daily basis. The human rights based approach – which underlines that sexual minority rights are human rights – can help build the case for improving the lives of sexual minorities towards policy makers, politicians and other decision makers at the national, regional and international level. 

b) Importance of research 


The Expert Meeting made clear that there are major gaps in research and data availability around sexual minorities. The meeting participants called for an increased effort to close those gaps, in particular for WSW and TG issues, in order to improve programming for sexual minorities. 5 


c) Value added of a closer dialogue between donors and grantees 


Meeting participants representing sexual minority organisations unanimously expressed the desire for donor funding to become more focused on long term sustainability and to actively support capacity building of MSM, WSW and TG service and human rights organisations. Donor organisation representatives, on the other hand, stressed the desire for recipient organisations to “know their donors” and cultivate long-term relationships built on trust1

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