Dear Friends and Supporters:
2018 moved like quicksilver.
This year, MPact officially launched its new name and brand, shedding some of the public health language that was weighing down our work with communities. Our goal has always been to stay ahead of the curve, and to operate as a leader in the field. We strive to set an example of how to adapt to a constantly shifting landscape while staying steadfast to our core beliefs.
Over the last year we witnessed monumental social change worldwide.
Transgender people will no longer be considered ‘mentally ill’ thanks to hard fought advocacy with the World Health Organization, which will go a long way in global efforts to push back stigma. The European Court of Justice extended residency rights to European Union same-sex spouses. The African Commission emphasized the need to protect all human rights defenders, including those working for the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, and to ensure freedom of assembly for LGBT groups. Mozambique and South Korea made it easier for LGBT groups to legally register as NGOs. The United Nations’ first independent expert on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Vitit Muntarbhorn, presented a report to the UN General Assembly in September that called for decriminalization of same-sex relations and legal recognition of gender identity. We then saw sweeping legal and political change in India and Zimbabwe, with new, hard-fought liberties won.
We have a lot to celebrate and to study. But there is still much hard work that lies ahead.
2018 ushered in serious crack-downs on LGBTI people in Indonesia, Chechnya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Turkey. Countries such as Brazil are turning politically towards authoritarian, conservative populism. In the United States, the human rights of Black and Brown people, Muslims, and immigrants in the United States of America continue to erode under the Trump administration. Moreover, the US presidential administration’s assault on cis and trans women and their sexual and reproductive health and rights is undoing years of progress. Attacks on women’s rights has a corrosive effect on all of our civil liberties because they strike at the basic human rights pillars of self-determination and bodily autonomy.
The unfinished business of HIV reflects the social and cultural context of the times, as gay and bisexual men face continued discrimination at HIV service sites worldwide. Budget cuts at national and international levels will make it even more difficult to ensure universal health coverage, including for people living with HIV. When we couple this with a failure to mount carefully curated, comprehensive sexual health programs that are targeted to those at greatest risk for HIV infection, we are then simply chasing our tails. This is especially true in places where the response to HIV remains chronically underfunded and the tools that we have at our disposal remain locked in the hands of medical professionals and draconian governments.
The global response to HIV and the industry that drives it must undergo a fundamental shift in mindset and approach. We need to push ourselves as advocates to reimagine and reclaim the global HIV response. We must support communities so that they, not governments, are in charge of charting their own trajectories. Community-led, peer-based sexual health programs must be well-funded on the local and global levels. Activists must be given the resources to remedy inequity and change harmful laws, policies and practices. We must advocate for health as a universal right and reject profit-driven schemes that subordinate the poor.
As you read MPact’s 2018 Annual Report, I hope you see our reimagined vision for the global HIV response highlighted in every activity and advocacy action. Our work thrives from the talent and countless contributions made by our Board of Directors, International Steering Committee, staff, funders, and individual donors. This Annual Report is MPact’s way of expressing our heartfelt thanks to all who make our work possible.
With warmest regards,
George Ayala, PsyD
MPact Global Action for Gay Men’s Health and Rights (formerly known as MSMGF or The Global Forum on MSM & HIV) was founded in 2006 by a group of activists concerned about the disproportionate HIV disease burden shouldered by men who have sex with men. MPact works at the intersection of sexual health and human rights, and is linked to more than 120 community-based organizations in 62 countries who are leading innovative solutions to the challenges faced by gay and bisexual men around the world.