Attending conferences, meetings, trainings, and other advocacy events is a fundamental part of ECOM’s work. The presence of ECOM’s staff and members at these events ensures that the Coalition can effectively advocate for the rights of MSM and trans* people and that it remains an important and visible stakeholder at the national, regional, and international levels. In 2016, ECOM staff and members took part in over 30 such events, in places ranging from New York City to Dushanbe to Durban.
In March, ECOM participated in the 5th Eastern Europe and Central Asia AIDS Conference in Moscow. ECOM held its own session, “Prevention and Treatment Particularities among MSM Populations.” National and regional experts, including Executive Director, Vitaly Djuma, gave informative presentations to over 40 participants. ECOM also organized a seminar on regional cooperation in the context of the response to the HIV epidemic among MSM and trans* people in EECA.
In April, Vitaly Djuma was invited to speak at the Civil Society Hearings side event, “Unfinished Business: HIV among gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men.” Djuma identified the challenges faced by MSM, trans* people, and by civil society organizations in the region. At the same time, he pointed to some positive trends, such as the adoption of antidiscrimination legislation protecting LGBT people in certain countries of the region.
ECOM took part in a training in Tbilisi, Georgia in May dedicated to the development of a pilot project for PrEP. The training, aimed at community representatives and medical professionals, explored how to ensure a high level of knowledge on how to support MSM and trans* people using PrEP, how to facilitate cooperation with doctors, and how the overall scheme of PrEP services should look. The training was organized jointly by ECOM and LGBT Georgia, with significant input from ECOM’s Technical Support Coordinator, Gennady Roshchupkin.
In May, ECOM’s Program & Advocacy Officer Marcus Oda attended the 38th Meeting of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) in Geneva. The meeting focused on reviewing UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé’s report on the HLM, the report of the NGO delegation on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of people most affected by HIV, as well as the Unified Budget, Results, and Accountability Framework (UBRAF). A third day was also devoted to the thematic segment on the role of communities in ending AIDS by 2030. Marcus was invited to intervene in discussions and made remarks before member states’ delegations on the exclusion of ECOM from the HLM and on the need for better access to HIV services and greater human rights protections for LGBT people.
The 2016 International AIDS Conference took place in July in Durban, South Africa. Gennady Roshchupkin was honored to be selected as one of a handful of speakers, and one of the only ones to represent the community, at the closing ceremony. Gennady’s speech looked to the future and expressed hope that universal access to testing and treatment programs, the expansion of sexual education in schools, and the wide availability of PrEP will be realities before the next International AIDS Conference.
The U.S. Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, Randy W. Berry, met ECOM’s staff and board members during an official visit to Estonia. ECOM was able to discuss MSM- and LGBT-related issues in EECA countries, shared information about ECOM’s activities, and identified challenges in the fight against the HIV epidemic in the region.
In conjunction with the IX National LGBT Movement and MSM Service Conference of Ukraine, ECOM and the East Europe & Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV (ECUO), organized a pre-conference in order to establish cooperation and share experiences between MSM and LGBT activists from different EECA countries. Much of the pre-conference focused on barriers preventing MSM from accessing the HIV continuum of care in EECA. A separate session co-hosted by UNDP, UNFPA, and ECOM was devoted to the implementation and use of the MSMIT. ECOM also provided funding for the main conference.
These examples represent just a small portion of advocacy events that ECOM participated in during 2016. A complete list of events can be found in Annual Report 2016.