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MSMGF, Johns Hopkins University unveil new gay men’s health curriculum

The curriculum aims to reduce homophobia, improve cultural competency, and enhance clinical skill within global health sector.



AIDS 2014The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) and Johns Hopkins University have launched a new international training curriculum designed to give healthcare providers the cultural competency and clinical skills necessary to meet the health needs of gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). Following the announcement of the World Health Organization’s new Consolidated Guidelines for Key Populations, the curriculum is also intended to serve as a critical vehicle to ensure the reach of WHO’s efforts at the country level.

Consisting of nine modules and covering a range of clinically relevant topics, the curriculum’s content was shaped and guided by a group of 15 technical experts, scientists, physicians, psychologists, program implementers and community members from around the world. The introductory modules are designed to help providers gain a broad understanding of the contexts in which MSM navigate their healthcare needs. Subsequent modules offer specific provider-led strategies for increasing access to and quality of services, such as creating an enabling clinical environment, taking an appropriate sexual history, and managing HIV and other STIs among MSM effectively.

Available for download here as a set of training tools on the MSMGF’s website, the nine modules of the MSMGF-JHU curriculum are:

  1. Understanding Gay Men and Other MSM
  2. Sexuality and Health
  3. Barriers to Health
  4. Creating a Friendlier Environment
  5. Promoting Mental Health
  6. Taking a Sexual History
  7. Supporting Gay Men and Other MSM Who Use Drugs and Alcohol
  8. Interventions for HIV and STI Prevention
  9. Clinical Care for HIV and Other STIs
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“General medical education curricula around the world often do not include sexual health in their training, let alone the oft-tabooed subject of homosexuality,” said Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall, director of the HIV Department at WHO. “This widespread deficiency in medical education, and the fact that 77 countries continue to criminalize homosexuality, continue to leave healthcare providers completely ill-equipped to address the unique needs of MSM respectfully and without prejudice. The curriculum for healthcare providers developed by the MSMGF and Johns Hopkins University is a truly commendable effort with the immense potential to complement our recent efforts here at the World Health Organization around addressing the HIV epidemic among gay men and other MSM.”

The MSMGF-JHU curriculum underwent pilot testing earlier this year among healthcare providers in Harare, Zimbabwe, supported by partner organization Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ). The evaluation of the pilot training revealed important increases in the proportion of healthcare providers who reported: feeling comfort providing friendly sexual health services to MSM (49.4% increase); discussing anal sex with clients (25% increase); and disagreeing that homosexuality deteriorates morals (47.6% increase).

“We were delighted when asked to join forces in the roll-out of the pilot in Harare, which resulted in important lessons learned for everyone involved,” said Samuel Matsikure, health programme manager for GALZ. “From our perspective, we saw enormous gains not only in the level of interest that such a training garnered among Zimbabwean physicians, but also in the measurable changes in attitude and knowledge even among those physicians who were previously unaware of MSM needs.”

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“Many training tools exist around the world for training healthcare providers on MSM sexual health,” said Dr. George Ayala, executive director of the MSMGF. “However, in many parts of the world these resources are scarce, and there remains a great need for engagement and training the health sector. We hope that this comprehensive tool will serve as a valuable foundation in places where these basic need exists, and act as a complementary resource to build on provider training efforts that are already underway in other regions.”

Individuals and organizations can register on the MSMGF website and obtain free and immediate access to the nine-module curriculum for facilitators and accompanying PowerPoint slides for use by both facilitators and participants.

The MSMGF-JHU curriculum was made possible by the ‘Bridging the Gaps’ program led by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aids Fonds.

The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) is a network of AIDS organizations, MSM networks, and advocates eyeing to ensure coverage of and equitable access to HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support services tailored to the needs of gay men and other MSM worldwide.


‘Bato’ dela Rosa backs same-sex marriage; still can’t detach trans people from sexual misconduct in toilets

Neophyte Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa expressed his support behind same-sex marriage, even as his supposedly pro-LGBTQIA support is softened by his continuing stance on not allowing people to use toilets based on their gender identity.



Neophyte Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa expressed his support behind same-sex marriage, making his position on the issue known during a Senate hearing on the proposed anti-discrimination bill (ADB).

“I’d like to manifest na ako po (that me), I’m on your side,” dela Rosa said, addressing members of the LGBTQIA community. “Ako nga (Me), I’m advocating, kung pwede magpakasal kayo parehong lalaki, parehong babae, okay lang sa akin, walang problema. Magsama kayo, magpakasal, walang problema sa akin (If two men, two women want to get married, that’s fine by me, that’s not a problem for me. If you want to live together, if you want to marry each other, that’s a non-issue for me).”

Only last May, Dela Rosa said he is still torn on proposals for recognizing same-sex marriage in the country.

But Dela Rosa’s supposedly new pro-LGBTQIA support is softened by his continuing stance on not allowing people to use toilets based on their gender identity. It may be true/documented that there are no recorded cases of any transgender woman harassing another woman inside a toilet, the former head of the Philippine National Police (PNP) raised the possibility of it happening in the future.

“You can’t detach me from my wild imagination being a retired police officer,” Dela Rosa said. “Pag in-allow kasi natin yan… hindi naman kailangang you just consider one portion of the society, kung hindi lahat i-consider mo yung mga maapektuhan na grupo din like yung totoong babae din (If we allow that…. we’d end up just giving in to the needs of one sector of the society, and yet we should also consider the other affected sectors, such as ‘real women’). Are our sisters and daughter safe in those bathroom?”

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By way of explanation, Dela Rosa said he asked his own daughter, and she expressed apprehension sharing toilets with a transgender woman.

To offer clarification, Naomi Fontanos, who helms Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas, said she understands the concern of the senator about sexual violence. But Fontanos stressed that sexual violence can happen anywhere, and “they don’t necessarily have to be in the toilets alone.”

GANDA Filipinas is a human rights organization that promotes the dignity and equality of transgender people in the Philippines and beyond

Fontanos added that there are already existing laws against sexual violence in the Philippines.

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Duterte pledges to work with Congress to pass SOGIE Equality Bill; still not considered urgent

Though Pres. Rodrigo Duterte vowed to work with Congress to push for the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill, the bill was still not certified as urgent. And aside from planning to finally formalize the formation of an LGBTQIA commission he earlier pledged, the president is said to be eyeing a national conference – something the LGBTQIA community has already been doing sans government support.



Courtesy of the Office of Sen. Bong Go

President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to work with Congress to push for the passage of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill that would protect the rights of members of the LGBTQIA community against discrimination.

This came after a meeting with select members of the LGBTQIA community, including Gretchen Diez, a transgender woman who was recently in the news after being barred from entering a female restroom.

As relayed by Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, who organized the meeting, also discussed during the meeting was the possibility of creating a commission for LGBTQIA Filipinos pending the enactment of a SOGIE law.

This is – however – not a new pledge, but a delayed one, with Duterte promising the formation of the same in December 2017.

During the gathering that was also joined by 1st District of Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, Go also said that the government plans to coordinate with LGBTQIA groups to create a national LGBTQIA convention in September, when advocates from different regions will be represented to raise their concerns and come up with policy proposals to promote and protect their welfare.

It is worth noting that this, too, is not a new solution; in the past, the country’s LGBTQIA community already held such a gathering, with the latest, 4th LGBTQIA National Conference, co-hosted by Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy Inc., Outrage Magazine and Cebu City-based Bisdak Pride Inc. with funding support not from the national government, but from UNDP and the offices of Rep. Roman and Sen. Chiz Escudero, among others.

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In fact, the national gathering’s 2013 iteration, the 3rd LGBT National Conference, produced “Being LGBT in Asia: The Philippines Country Report” in 2014; it was funded by UNDP and USAID. The report – written by Michael David C. Tan – reviewed the legal and social environment faced by LGBTQIA people in the Philippines. By doing so, it already cited many of the issues besetting members of the LGBTQIA community; and the solutions that may be considered for the same.

“The (LGBTQIA) advocates… are looking forward to the passage of a law that will protect them from discrimination before the President’s term ends,” Go said in a statement.

But following the meeting, it was not immediately made clear if Duterte is certifying the SOGIE Equality Bill as urgent.

The SOGIE Equality Bill, re-filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros in the 18th Congress, seeks to penalize discrimination against the LGBT community by a fine of P100,000 to P500,000 or imprisonment of six to 12 years subject to the discretion of the court.

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Mental health talk series on women, LGBTQ+ slated starting Aug. 23

SPARK! Philippines is organizing a three-part mental health talk series called SPARK! Conversations, to be held on August 23, September 6 and 27 at Commune Cafe + Bar, Makati City.



Photo by Camila Quintero Franco from

SPARK! Philippines is organizing a three-part mental health talk series called SPARK! Conversations, to be held on August 23, September 6 and 27 at Commune Cafe + Bar, Makati City.

The mental health talk series is specifically targeted towards women and members of the LGBTQ+ community who have suffered from mental health issues due to social factors such as gender based violence, socioeconomic disadvantage and income inequality. With the passage of the Philippine Mental Health Law, this mental health talk series aims to promote efforts to improve the awareness and encourage discussions on mental health in the Philippines, especially on women and the LGBTQ+ community.

The three-part series of SPARK! Conversations Mental Health Talk Series will focus on the topics of:

  • Single working mothers and the structural disadvantages they tend to experience, such as financial insecurity and lack of social support
  • Supporting the supporter, the struggles that the support system of people who have mental health disorders go through especially in balancing what they can offer to others while also looking after their own needs
  • Members of the LGBTQ+ community and the mental health challenges that they face due to discrimination, societal pressures and stigma that they come across every day

The series is held in partnership with Vanguard Assessments and the Austrian Embassy Manila with the support of J. Amado Araneta Foundation and Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment.

For more information, contact Kassandra Barnes at ktbarnes@sparkphilippines or 09177287961.

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Catriona Gray bats for anti-discrimination law that actually works

Catriona Gray reiterated her support for members of the LGBTQIA community, with an Instagram post that pushed not only for an anti-discrimination law, but one that actually works/is properly implemented.



Screencap of Catriona's Gray's IG post

Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray reiterated her support for members of the LGBTQIA community, with an Instagram post that pushed not only for an anti-discrimination law, but one that actually works/is properly implemented.

On Tuesday, a transgender woman was prohibited from using the female toilet in Farmer’s Plaza in Cubao, Quezon City. But the trans woman was eventually also handcuffed, and then detained.

For Gray, this “only highlights further… the Philippines’ need for implementation of the #SOGIEEqualityBill.”

Gray added: “LGBTQ+ rights are HUMAN rights – mga karapatang pangkaligtasan at kalayaan mula sa diskriminasyon, karahasan at pagmamalupit batay sa pagkakakilanlan.

But because the unfortunate incident happened in a city with an existing anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) that supposedly legally prohibits discriminatory acts to be committed against members of the LGBTQIA community, Gray noted that “ibig sabihin, walang saysay ang isang bill na hindi maipatupad sa isang komunidad.

Gray mentioned two recommendations that for her ought to also be considered with the development of any anti-discrimination policy.

First, “‘accessible forms of information for the public such as educational drives, programs and awareness campaigns’; para mas maintindihan natin ang mga pangangailangan ng LGBTQ+ community at para malaman natin ang mga bagay na maaari pa nating magawa bilang mga kaalyado o mga taong may awa sa kapwa.

And second, “a SOGIE workplace policy; para sa lahat ng mga pampublikong tagapaglingkod at mga taong may impluwensiya sa komunidad.”

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Gusto ko ring pagtuunan natin ng pansin ang katotohanang wala dapat makaranas ng anumang uri ng pagpapahiya at pang-aabuso (emotional, physical o sexual), LGBTQ+ man o hindi,” Gray said.

She added that “the whole argument of shifting the blame to the victim for reasons of being trans to justify abuse – is still victim blaming and IS NOT RIGHT. The blame should be on the perpetrators who should be held accountable and corrective actions should be taken… to help prevent future similar incidents from happening. Ang LGBTQ + ay nakikipaglaban para sa kanilang mga karapatan – ang karapatan sa kaligtasan, proteksyon at pagkakapantay-pantay – ay laban din natin.”

Gray has been vocal about her support for the LGBTQIA community in the past. Let June, for instance, she stated that “religion is never an excuse to hate, put down or act indifferent to the suffering of others. I believe God is love, and I will treat everyone – no matter who they are, to best of my ability, with love.”

Despite her outspokenness, however, it is worth noting that when Gray posted about LGBTQIA people in June, it was because of her endorsement of @sanmiglightph (San Miguel Light), an alcoholic drink. Though still not widely discussed particularly in the Philippines, members of the LGBTQIA community are at higher risk for alcoholism (and polysubstance abuse, in general).

Also, last July, Gray backed Manny Pacquiao during his fight against Keith Thurman. The boxer cum senator is infamous for referring to gay people as “mas masahol pa sa hayop (worse than animals).”

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Trans woman handcuffed, detained for using female toilet

Use of toilet befitting their gender identity continues to be a big issue for members of the trans community. If a trans woman uses the male toilet, for instance, she may be harassed/molested; and if she uses the female toilet, apparently she could also be jailed.



Screencap of a photo provided to the media by the group of Gretchen Custodio Diez

A trans woman, Gretchen Custodio Diez, was handcuffed and then detained late Tuesday after she used the female toilet of a mall in Cuba, Quezon City.

It is worth noting that Quezon City is supposed to be a “Gender Fair City”, with its own anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) that eyes to prevent discrimination of members of the LGBTQIA community.

Use of toilet befitting their gender identity continues to be a big issue for members of the trans community. If a trans woman uses the male toilet, for instance, she may be harassed/molested; and if a trans woman uses the female toilet, something like this could happen.

In an Instagram post, singer/songwriter and former National Youth Commission (NYC) chairperson Ice Seguerra said that being barred from using a comfort room is one of his biggest fears.

In his post, Sueguerra said: “Honestly, this is one of my biggest fears whenever I’m out. Lalo na pag nasa Arabic countries ako. Pag sa pambabaeng banyo, ilang beses na akong pinalabas. And kung sa panlalaki naman, ang daming tanong, lalo na kung may mga Pinoy.

To avoid an incident like this from happening, Seguerra said that “kapag may ASEAN events akong dinadaluhan nung nagtatrabaho ako sa NYC, hindi ako umiinom ng tubig buong araw kasi natatakot ako mag-banyo. This is a real concern. Na hanggat hindi mo pa narararnasan, isasawalang bahala mo lang. Concern na hindi ko kailanman inisip na pagdadaanan ko rin pala.

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Seguerra also noted that many people may think this is a superficial issue, but “hindi mababaw yung pagtititnginan ka ng mga tao lalo na yung papalabasin ka. Parang kinakain ako ng lupa sa tuwing nangyayari yun and what’s worse is I don’t feel safe. All of these feelings and more, AND NOW THIS… just because gusto lang namin magbanyo.”

In a statement posted on her Facebook page, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte stated:

Nakatutok ako sa kaso ni Gretchen Custodio Diez, isang transwoman, na umano’y sapilitang pinalabas sa isang comfort room para sa mga babae ng Farmers Plaza at dinala sa QC Police District 7.

“We condemn this kind of discrimination towards members of the LGBT+ community. Ang Quezon City ay ang unang lungsod na may Gender Fair Ordinance upang protektahan ang karapatan ng mga miyembro ng LGBT+. Sa batas na ito, ipinagbabawal ng lungsod ang lahat ng uri ng diskriminasyon, at binibigyan ng proteksyon at paggalang ang dignidad at karapatang-pantao ng lahat, lalung-lalo na ang LGBT+.

Malinaw na hindi sumusunod ang Farmers Mall sa nasabing ordinansa kung saan lahat ng government offices, private, at commercial establishments ay dapat magtalaga ng ‘All-Gender Toilets’ para sa lahat (Section 5: Affirmative Acts, 1 Affirmative Acts in Employment, Part D).

Ipinag-utos ko sa Business Permit and Licensing Department (BPLD) na siguraduhin na susunod, sa lalong madaling panahon, ang lahat ng business establishments sa ating Gender Fair Ordinance.

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“We assure the members of the LGBT+ community that Quezon City will always protect their rights and be a home for their sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. We do not support any kind of violence and discrimination in our city. Sa ating LGBT+ community, protektado ang karapatan ninyo sa QC.”

Image may contain: 6 people, people sitting and text

The legal team of Diez is still considering what steps to take, considering that the mall ended up as the complainant against her even if she did not violate anything.

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Support needed for foster carers of LGBTQ young people

Carers reported particular dilemmas in supporting young people in care to feel confident in expressing their LGBTQ identities while simultaneously protecting them and helping them to protect themselves from bullying.



Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from

More support is needed for fosters carers looking after LGBTQ young people.

This is according to new research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA). The study, titled ‘Providing a secure base for LGBTQ young people in foster care: the role of foster carers’, was written Gillian Schofield, Jeanette Cossar, Emma Ward, Birgit Larsson and Pippa Belderson, is published in Child and Family Social Work.

The first ever study of LGBTQ young people in care in England found good examples of foster carers being available and sensitive, and offering acceptance and membership of their family. However, there was also evidence of foster carers struggling in some areas in relation to meeting the needs of LGBTQ young people, whether because of their lack of knowledge, skills and support or because of ambivalence, discomfort or, in a few cases, homophobia or transphobia among foster family members.

Although there were some positive descriptions of the support available from social workers, most carers felt alone with the question of how best to support LGBTQ young people. This lack of support also meant that negative attitudes and approaches could go unchallenged.

The research, conducted by UEA’s Centre for Research on Children and Families, focused on the nature of foster carers’ experiences and perspectives on caring for LGBTQ young people. It involved interviews with 26 carers, who described the importance of offering LGBTQ young people not only the nurturing relationships that all children in care need, but helping young people manage stigma and other challenges associated with minority sexual orientation and gender identity.

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The findings – published in the journal Child and Family Social Work as part of a special issue on fostering teenagers – are from a wider study of the experiences of LGBTQ young people in care, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and led by Dr Jeanette Cossar from UEA’s School of Social Work. This also included a survey of local authorities in England and interviews with 46 LGBTQ young people who were or had been in care.

Gillian Schofield, Professor of Child and Family Social Work at UEA and lead author of the foster carer paper, said the experiences and needs of LGBTQ young people in care had been overlooked in England, both in policy and research.

“LGBTQ young people in foster families are likely to have many of the same needs as other fostered adolescents, but they also face additional challenges,” said Prof Schofield. “Their emotional, psychological and social well-being depends on how they manage, and are supported in managing, both the difficult histories they share with other children in care and their minority sexual orientation and gender identities.

“Understanding caregiving roles and relationships for LGBTQ young people in care has important implications for recruiting, training, matching and supporting foster carers to care for LGBTQ young people effectively, to ensure their needs are met. Our work highlights one of the key areas in fostering that professionals supporting young people in foster care and training and supporting foster carers need to be better informed about.”

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For LGBTQ young people, trust in caregivers was often said by carers to have been damaged by previous adverse experiences that included abuse, neglect, separation and loss. For some this had been compounded by moves linked to rejection of their sexual orientation or trans identity by birth, foster or adoptive parents.

Carers described needing to be sensitive to the difficult choices facing young people about how open they wanted to be about sexuality or gender, especially when they were anxious about being rejected or moved. They reported particular dilemmas in supporting young people in care to feel confident in expressing their LGBTQ identities while simultaneously protecting them and helping them to protect themselves from bullying.

Carers talked with pride of the way in which young people treated them as parents, and often recognised the additional element of security that accepting young people’s LGBTQ identity contributed to a sense of family belonging. Where foster carers had helped LGBTQ young people to feel fully accepted as family members, this gave them greater confidence in other areas of their lives. However, it was also important for foster carers to promote positive relationships between young people and their birth families.

A number of implications for practice emerged from the interviews with foster carers, and were supported by other data from the project from young people and social workers.

Prof Schofield said: “At the initial assessment, training and preparation stage, it will be important for fostering agencies to explore prospective foster carers’ values and attitudes in relation to LGBTQ issues.

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“Key also to ensuring high quality foster care will be the quality of the work of supervising social workers and children’s social workers. Foster carers in this study felt that they needed social workers to offer better information, for example in relation to LGBTQ support groups or gender identity services.”

Carers also needed clearer policies and better support to manage the day-to-day decisions within the care system, whether regarding decisions over sleepovers or managing inter-professional meetings such as statutory reviews. Better training for social workers about the experiences and needs of LGBTQ young people and their carers is also essential, both in qualifying and post-qualifying programmes.

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