MSM community members in the early days staged a play “Cleopatra” at the Kenya National Theatre. This play created an open and safe platform to discuss and reflect on what it means to be a homosexual began to take place. Following this, Ishtar-MSM was conceived.
In 1999, Ishtar-MSM was registered with the Ministry of Social Services as a self support group dealing explicitly with MSM issues. In 2002, Ishtar upgraded its registration to Community Based Organisation. Since then, Ishtar has developed strong allies through partnerships and networks, and is one of the founding members of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK). Ishtar MSM on its own is a lobby and advocacy platform for LGBT/MSM.
In 2003, Ishtar was among the partners who worked with University of Nairobi and Population Council to undertake operations research on understanding MSM in Nairobi. Of importance is Ishtar’s involvement and working relationship with the National AIDs Control Council (NACC) since 2005 that has seen the inclusion of MSM in the KNASP.
In 2010 Ishtar-MSM was the first MSM led organisation in Kenya to begin HIV intervention for LGBT and MSM, including male sex workers. In addition, Ishtar MSM’s currently offers the following services; referrals to MSM-friendly HTC and other health services, distribution of condoms and water based lubricants, hosting safer sex workshops, peer education and counseling, open forum discussions, post test clubs (PTC), community mobilization through various outreach activities and drop in services.
Mission: To advance sexual health of men who have sex with men through service delivery, community development, advocacy and research in Kenya.
Vision: Fulfilling sexual health for men who have sex with men in Kenya
Ishtar’s focus areas include;
- Service Delivery: providing effective and timely clinically competent and appropriate health services including HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services for MSM.
- Community Development: building capacity of MSM community with the skills they need to advocate on their own behalf and improve their lives.
- Advocacy: disseminating information and knowledge through various types of media, publications, and appropriate language for enhanced awareness and utilization of information on MSM health issues, creating environments that support and promote MSM health care rights, focussing on the availability, accessibility, safety and quality of care.health issues
- Research: fostering evidence-based HIV programming and documentation for MSM in Kenya through operational research
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The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya. All rights reserved