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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Video: some Arab and African nations obstruct on HIV/Aids at UN, whilst South Africa makes historic pro-LGBT stand

This video is of the first person living with HIV/Aids prepared to be open about their sero-status in Egypt.

Source:




According to the UN specialist news source Inner City Press the Syrian representative denounced a HIV/Aids resolution on Friday at the United Nations whilst pretending to speak for all Arab countries

Matthew Russell Lee reports that Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari claimed that the Arab Group objected to the listing of vulnerable groups - which includes 'men who have sex with men' (MSM) and others often labeled 'MARPS' (most at risk populations) - in the resolution saying that such designations are up to member states and their “national characteristics.”

But Green was told by Lebanon's expert on the AIDS negotiations that Syria did not speak for all of the Arab Group: “He was speaking for himself.”

During the same session, The Holy See (the Vatican) denounced condoms, ignoring the Pope's recent historic statement.

Lee asked UNAIDS chief Michel Sidibe about Iran's speech, where they denounced “risky and immoral behavior”. He replied that he will keep speaking out on these “controversial” topics, continue to work on it. There's much work to be done in Iran, he was asked - “a lot,” Sidibe replied. 

Lee heard numerous complaints from civil society and medical groups about the politics and prejudice inside the closed UN room.

Nonkosi Khumalo, the Chair of South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign, told him about the most problematic countries - those who cite 'morals' etc. and block or water down collective agreements. Egypt, Uganda and Malawi as the most retrograde, she said, and she chided Swaziland as chair of the African Group for not speaking up enough.

He asked if Egypt's position had improved after the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak. No, Ms. Khumalo said, Egypt's position hadn't changed, leading her to wonder out loud from whom Egypt's delegation to the UN is receiving its instructions.

Lee asked Sibide about anti-AIDS activist Maxim Popov, arrested by Uzbekistan for distributing an AIDS education pamphlet funded by the UN.

Thanks for asking me again, he answered. He said he continues to work on the case, but that the Uzbek government does not engage in dialogue.

Asked about Ukraine's harassment of NGOs who work on AIDS, picking over their finances with a fine toothed comb. He said he'd heard of it; his colleague blamed this on Ukraine being uncomfortable with harm reduction and methadone programs.

"And so it goes at the UN," writes Lee.

The final agreement formally adopted did call for "intensified national efforts to create legal frameworks to eliminate stigma, discrimination, and violence related to HIV" - and does, for the first time, mention MSM - but thanks to the efforts of the usual suspects it does undermine or dilute a targeted focus on MSM as well as other MARPS such as injection drug users, and sex workers.

Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF) EO George Ayala told Medscape:
"Although important, culture, values, and sovereignty should not take precedence over international human rights obligations."
Evan Wood, director of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, spoke to Medscape about the agreement fudge on prevention amongst injecting drug users - but could be speaking about all MARPS:
"Can you imagine any other disease where the [World Health Organization] and other UN partners would write evidence-based guidelines and then the best the international community can do is suggest that states consider them?"
In good news, last Thursday South Africa tabled an 'vastly improved' resolution on 'Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity' at the UN Human Rights Council.

It is described as a improved version of the resolution signed by 85 nations in March, over vocal opposition by the African Group, which represents many but not all African countries. (A similar resolution tabled by New Zealand in 2005 drew 32 signatories and one tabled by Norway in 2006 drew 54.)

In March, South Africa appeared to side with the African Group's argument (and that of The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, OIC) that the resolution was being rammed through and positioned 'sexual orientation and gender identity' as a new concept. There was also a technical delaying tactic: that the resolution made the inter-governmental working group the exclusive modality for discussing issues of sexual orientation and gender identity at the UN. This would mean that no other UN body, including special procedures, treaty bodies, and the Council itself, could discuss 'sexual orientation and gender identity', and the violations that individuals suffer on those grounds, until such time as the proposed inter-governmental working group had concluded its work.

At the time South Africa was accused of "collaborating with governments that refuse to acknowledge discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation" and of ignoring its own constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on "sexual orientation."

South African LGBT activist Zackie Achmat, co-founder of the Social Justice Coalition said in March that the South African move would stop any further UN investigation or report on sexual orientation and gender identity anywhere.
"If enormous hate crimes happen, as in Uganda, then the UN can't investigate. It must first decide what sexual orientation means." 
Inside South Africa the loud criticism of the government's position at the UN has led to the change of direction by them and an in-depth conversation with a broad range of constituents both there and at the UN.

According to The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR):
"the 17th [UN Human Rights Council]  session promises to mark the moment at which the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity moves beyond the damage done in the past and, despite the inevitability of continuing opposition, into an era where momentum lies on the side of universality of human rights."
HT: African Activist

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3 comments:

  1. THE LAST I HEARD WAS THAT SWAZILAND IS A COUNTRY COUNTRY. IT'S NOW WONDER THEY WERE NOT SUPPORTING THE LGBT AGENDA.

    ReplyDelete
  2. THE LAST I HEARD WAS THAT SWAZILAND IS A CHRSITIAN COUNTRY. IT'S NO WONDER THEY WERE NOT SUPPORTING THE LGBT AGENDA.

    ReplyDelete
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