We believe that the end of AIDS is possible if there is more focus on key populations. Our project in Kyrgyzstan addresses barriers faced by the LGBT community related to their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Driven by community champions, we work to realize more safety and security for LGBT people; the anti-gay legislation has been stopped; and strong LGBT activist that are visible and are able to demand rights in an open and safe way.
It is life threatening in Kyrgyzstan to disclose sexual orientation
The Kyrgyz Republic is a country with low HIV prevalence in the general population. However, between 2006 and 2015, the number of officially registered cases of HIV infections in the country rose 5.7 times to a total number of 6,402 people living with HIV. Key populations carry a heavy burden of the epidemic, for example the HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men is 6.3%. One of the reasons that there has been some increase is the limited access to prevention programmes and healthcare for key populations.
For the last four years, the overall political situation in Kyrgyzstan has been fragile and dynamic at the same time. The year 2014 was marked by a troubling trend in the country, as the government
failed to promote and consolidate political and civil rights that many had hoped would follow the 2010 constitutional reforms and change of government. However, up to this day there are no state level programmes concerning LGBT issues. Any discussions concerning rights or violence against LGBT people are not fruitful on the level of higher political decision-making. Officials prefer to avoid this issue or take a conservative stand and nationalistic point of view. Executive governmental agencies do not cooperate with other organisations in order to respond to and meet the requirements of the adopted recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review on sexual orientation and gender identity. It is life threatening in Kyrgyzstan to disclose sexual orientation: often it can lead to social isolation, loss of work, and even violence. The closed nature and invisibility of LGBT community members are a result of stigma and discrimination in society.
LGBT people claim a right-based HIV and SRHR response
Bridging the Gaps works with a Theory of Change approach. A Theory of Change is a description of a list of events that is expected to lead to a particular desired outcome. It is a visualization of how change is believed to happen. In 2016, representatives of the LGBT community developed a specified Theory of Change We that consists of short-,medium, and long term outcomes. The Theory of Change describes how we plan to realize more safety and security for LGBT people; the anti-gay legislation has been stopped; and strong LGBT activist that are visible and are able to demand rights in an open and safe way.
Through innovation and by building on previous work, we will strengthen civil society organisations’ ability to:
1. We facilitate community development
- Rolling-out stigma index research;
- Conduct context analysis and needs-assessment on health and rights fof LGBTI people;
- Empower community members through the organisation of workshops and safe spaces;
- Increasing knowledge and understanding around practising safer sex through outreach, peer-education and workshops;
- Completing and disseminating lesson learned docuement on the reduction of stigma and discrimination towards LGBT among Kyrgyz law enforcement;
- Organize community events;
- Providing technical assistance, coaching, and overall support to the initiative groups;
- Providing legal assistance to the LGBT community both face to face and by phone.
2. We advocate for the continuously strengthening of services and upholding human rights
- Collecting human rights violation cases in Bishkek, Talas, Osh, and Almaty;
- Advocating for the withdrawal of the draft ‘foreign agent’ act and the draft anti-LGBT law;
- Increasinf awareness on human rights violations regarding trans persons and engage them in advocacy efforts;
- Improving the gender marker change procedure for transgender people;
- Developing a “Smart Guide” to the MSM Implementation Tool (MSMIT) and advise on quality Russian translation and cultural relevance for dissemination in Kyrgyzstan.
3. Deliver inclusive, rights-based and gender sensitive services
- Collaborating with LGBT friendly medical specialists and refer and accompany community members to these healthcare providers;
- Providing direct services like HIV testing;
- Developing and distributing IEC materials with relevant and targeted information;
- Conducting the HIV/AIDS epidemiological research in Kyrgyzstan to ensure full access for the community to LGBTI inclusive testing facilities;
- Conducting mini-sessions for medical specialists to sensitise them on LGBTI issues;
- Distributing HIV prevention information, condoms, and lubricants to GBMSM and
4. Foster global and in-country processes and partnerships that reinforce results
- Exploring opportunities for collaboration between key population organisations;
- Developing guidelines on the “Standards of Care for Transgender and Transsexual
people in Kyrgyzstan” and organise advocacy meetings with medical specialists and the Ministry of Health;
- Engaging the LGBT community in the work and plans of the Global Fund and work closely with other key populations.