Ishtar first came to the forefront with the staging of the play ‘Cleopatra’. This was an entry point that helped to develop an atmosphere of trust and openness where discussion and reflection on what it means to be a homosexual began to take place. Brother Daino, a marianist missionary, was seeking a way in which “the church [could] respond to pastoral needs of the Homosexual community in Nairobi”.
Whereas Ishtar’s initial membership was Male sex workers, the organization has since developed to deal with MSM holistically where all MSM and Transgender women (Male to Female) are included In 1999, like-minded gay men came together to have it registered as a self help group dealing explicitly with MSM issues.
It is one of the founding organizations of Gay and lesbian coalition of Kenya (GALCK) and was formally registered as a community based organization in 2002. Ishtar has been at the forefront of advancing LGBTI health rights in Kenya. Ishtar has been actively involved in several research programs, the most remarkable ones being: In 2004/2005 partnering with Nairobi University Institute of African studies and the Population Council in the Understanding the HIV/STI risk and prevention needs of MSM in Nairobi Kenya.
This research presented the key findings and acknowledgement that MSM are not a negligible population in Nairobi and that their sexual behavior has an implication on both men’s and women’s reproductive health hence the importance of inclusion of MSM in the holistic approach to fight the pandemic. 500 MSM IN Nairobi were interviewed in this research.
Mission & Vision
“Fulfilling sexual health for men who have sex with men in Kenya”
To advance sexual health of men who have sex with men through service delivery, community development, advocacy and research in Kenya.
KEY PERFORMANCE AREAS
1. Service Delivery
Provide effective and timely clinically competent and appropriate health services including HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services for MSM.
2. Community Development
Build capacity of MSM community with the skills they need to advocate on their own behalf and improve their lives.
Disseminate information and knowledge through various types of media, publications, and appropriate language for enhanced awareness and utilization of information on MSM health issues.
Foster evidence-based HIV programming and documentation for MSM in Kenya through research.
• Lateral and vertical accountability
• Team work
• Mutual respect
• Collective action and responsibilities
• To advocate for equal access of healthcare for MSM
• To identify and develop a referral system for MSM health needs
• To create, raise and promote public awareness about MSM
• Instill life skills through capacity building
• Offer peer education services to MSM
• To create, plan and manage different support groups for the members
• To emphasize life skills and development of positive attitudes and values