M-Coalition is a regional network that was founded in 2014 by the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality and MPact Global (formerly MSMGF) to respond to the growing prevalence of HIV among gay and bisexual men in the MENA region. The organization, hosted administratively and fiscally by AFE MENA, has operated on advocacy, knowledge production and research. In 2017, M-Coalition expanded to include campaigning, facilitating access to services and providing technical assistance for national MSM programming in the region. This expansion allowed M-Coalition to respond to MSM needs not only on HIV but on other health needs faced by queer men in the region; such as: mental health, harm reduction and physical wellbeing.
In 2018, M-Coalition introduced two new programs to its structure: Lesbian and Queer women health and Trans and non-binary people health in response to the lack of any form of health programming for these populations in the MENA. These new programs came in time of M-Coalition rebranding to a more inclusive health approach for LGBTQ communities in the Middle East and North Africa.
M-Coalition is dedicated to support local communities and build the capacities of activists specifically around health and advocacy. Late in 2016, M-Coalition organized a workshop on the role of Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCM) representatives in the Global Fund Processes to encourage more engagement of Key Population representation in the oversight of country grant implementation. In early 2017, a toolkit was produced in Arabic, English and French on the new funding module of the Global Fund and the effective engagement of Key affected populations in CCM processes, which guides activists on effective communication with CCM representatives, accountability and the guarantee of adaptability of programming to community needs. In 2018, M-Coalition developed two pilot programs and tested them in Lebanon around “Online Outreach” and “Facilitating support groups for PLHIV”. Both programs were based on national scale trainings of community activists working within LGBTQ and Sexual Health organizations in Lebanon. The trainings evaluated existing materials and tested out modules around communication, effective outreach, creating and sustaining support groups. Two toolkits were produced in Arabic, English and French and will be launched in 2019 leading to a series of scheduled regional multi country trainings in 2019-2021.
ADVOCACY AND CAMPAIGNING
On the advocacy front, M-Coalition partnered with Gay Star News, an LGBT news portal based in the UK, around their digital pride event. The digital pride is a yearly event which celebrates pride online, so individuals who cannot celebrate pride in their countries get to do so with the internatinal community. The first video was released in 2017 where M-Coalition asked LGBTQ people to share videos on what they were proud of and collaged them into a powerful video. The significance of this video world wide was that the community in the MENA region finally had a face to it, a face that was proud and not hiding out of fear. The feedback was very positive on social media although the video did stir up some hateful speech. The second video was released in 2018 where people were asked to share hateful speech they had endured in their life and how they overcame that hate and transformed it into power. More visibility for trans people was present in 2018 and the video was yet another success under the hashtag #MillionsOfUs.