God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Networking and the role of NGO’s

Ending my visit to the USA and returning back to South Africa, there is time to reflect on what I take home from my trip besides  good new contacts and lots of goodwill and support.

Well, the first is that the USA and South Africa have lots of common ground – socially and politically.
Visiting the food bank and having an open mind while traveling there is undeniable the common ground of high poverty rates. And in both countries the system produces those who never have a chance to get up – despite the myth of the “American dream”. In the USA it is the system of less governmental assistance and a brutal battle about coming up which produces either winners or losers, in South Africa it is the other way around: government handouts to keep the masses at peace and dependent and after some time there is the culture of entitlement. Add corruption in a big way in South Africa, which paired with the abuse of BB BEE creates a thin layer of very rich people while the rest has to continue to live around the official poverty line. In both countries this creates a gap which widens every day and civil society has to step in with NGO’s and other organizations to bridge the gaps – on one hand a blessing for those who lost out, although every NGO faces the dilemma to somehow also “support” the non-function of governmental involvement and cement the status quo.

Another mutuality is in both countries state organs are used to settle political scores – and with the instrument of non-public run Grant Juries in the USA and the coming secrecy law in South Africa we are in both countries in danger to lose out more civil rights and freedoms our ancestors have fought very hard for. Listening during my stay in the US to people fighting pro-life issues being subjected to prison and year-long fights through the juridical system to clear their names, being observed, wire-taped and somehow threatened it feels in essence not that far away from South Africa, considering what happens to those falling out with the ruling party.

I guess it is this treat to civil rights and freedom of speech which makes it at the end of the day so important to have NGO’s and PBO’s function in both countries – and independent in which field of expertise they are working, they have also to add to a healthy culture of check and balances in politics and society of their respective country. Voluntary engagement can only grow and make a proper impact if done in a society which respects the basic rights of it citizen and ensures their well-being on a level above the poverty line. Maybe one can go so far saying that besides the separation of powers  the culture of voluntary work within civil society organizations is essential for the functioning of a state or country. Therefore the work of NGO’s is always also a political one – even if one tries to keep out of daily politics.

Networking, exchange of ideas between non governmental organizations adds  so to  the “people power” to counter the again and again emerging imbalance within a country created by an over-demand of power and influence by those in government. As even most democracies have created a group of professionals who run the country a lifelong in changing roles  there is the necessity of a strong civil society representation.

Filed under: General, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , ,

Discussions about family

Within the church and society there are major discussions how to define family and how to define marriage. As seen in France, violence seems to be the last resort for opponents of “same-sex” marriage and family life. Having myself problems with the word “gay marriage” on one hand but seeing the need for equality regarding the legal status of a same-sex couple in the legal framework of a country, I found in the recent Southern Cross two articles which in my understanding are underlining the need for further discussions on the subject without any hostility pro or contra the opposite position. With the permission of the editor of the Southern Cross, Guenther Simmermacher, here the two pieces, which can be seen also on the original website of the Southern Cross. All copyright is with the Southern Cross.

The revolution of family (link to Southern Cross original text)

May 1, 2013

In recent weeks several Church leaders have indicated that they might not oppose legislation that would extend civil union rights to same-sex couples, with the legal prerogatives that apply to traditional marriages, but without characterising such unions as marriages.
“In practice, the function of procreation has been diminished as the primary purpose of marriage, and not only in the West”
In early February Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said that while the Church cannot consent to anything that treats other unions as equivalent to marriage between a man and a woman, “private law solutions” for protecting people’s rights could be permissible.This view has since been echoed by influential prelates such as Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Cardinal Rubén Salazar of Colombia (where same-sex legislation is pending) and Archbishop Piero Marini, liturgical master of ceremonies under Pope John Paul II. Under Pope Francis there seems to be an increasing openness to saying such things. Indeed, these statements might reflect the pope’s thinking: a senior official in Argentina’s bishops’ conference has confirmed that the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio favoured civil unions as an alternative to the legalisation of gay marriage in his country in 2010.

These comments will be welcome by Catholics and others who have supported the extension of full civil rights to homosexuals, but are opposed to changing the traditional definitions of marriage. However, an acknowledgment that the legalisation of same-sex civil unions is not irreconcilable with Catholic teaching and represents a tolerable alternative to the redefinition of the traditional family might be coming too late in stopping the inexorable move towards the legalisation of gay marriage in many countries. Worldwide, 13 countries have legalised same-sex marriage, including South Africa.

Questions may be raised whether the concept of same-sex civil unions is actually acceptable to those who advocate same-sex marriage, and whether the Church can keep intact its definition of marriage and family if it consents to same-sex civil unions. In a broader context, can the Church’s model of the traditional family retain currency in societies where the meaning of marriage and family has been thoroughly revolutionised over the past half century, with divorce, cohabitation and raising children outside marriage increasingly being seen as acceptable and normal? In practice, the function of procreation has been diminished as the primary purpose of marriage, and not only in the West. It is within this context that the notion of same-sex marriage has become acceptable to so many people throughout the world. These realities merit open and candid discussion as the Church seeks to formulate its response. It may also be productive to study the effects of the tone in which Church leaders state their opposition to gay marriage. For example, have the more strident forms of rhetoric—on either side—precluded reasonable dialogue and compromise?
It must be acknowledged that in its engagement against gay marriage, the Catholic Church has inflicted wounds, and sustained some itself. The Church has been accused of homophobia and hypocrisy. While opposition to same-sex marriage obviously is not intrinsically homophobic, some of the trenchant rhetoric has been interpreted as being hostile to homosexuals. Sometimes the lines between defending marriage and attacking homosexuals have appeared to be blurred. Some intemperate protests from Church leaders have been hurtful to the LGBT community, in contrast with the Catechism of the Catholic Church which demands that homosexuals be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” (2358).

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who himself has offered ferocious opposition to gay marriage, acknowledged this failing last month when he said on US television that the Church must ensure that its “defence of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people”. He acknowledged, with admirable frankness, that the Church has not “been too good at that” and has failed to be consistently welcoming to gays and lesbians.

This failure to fully extend Christ’s embrace for all requires correction. The discussion about how to do this must begin now.

Learning from Germans (Link to Southern Cross)

By Mphuthumi Ntabeni on May 1, 2013

In April the Justice and Peace (J&P) Commission of the archdiocese of Cape Town was fortunate to have an information-sharing session with a visiting German Church delegation, led by Bishop Stephan Josef Ackermann of Trier. Bishop Ackermann is the chairman of J&P in Germany, and also the bishop assigned to deal with sexual abuse cases in Germany. Pilgrims pray at last year’s “Katholikentag”, the biennial German Catholic Church assembly which is organised by the national laity council. The German delegation was impressed that in South Africa we have J&P commissions in our parish commissions.  In Germany J&P exist only on a national level, under the Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken (ZdK), the official council of the German Catholic laity.

The ZdK was founded in 1848, was banished under Bismarck and again under the Nazi regime, but gained public respect mostly during the Cold War. Its secretary, Dr Stefan Vesper, was among the visiting delegation. The ZdK is a representative body of lay people. It unites diocesan councils, Catholic associations, institutions of lay apostolates, lay movements and communities. It serves also as a forum of opinions on political issues and the Church. From what I understood, the ZdK represents the concerns of Catholics in the public arena. It has a division that operates like our Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office in participating in public dialogue and in the houses of legislation in shaping public policy. It advises the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference on issues of social, political and religious life. Most of us showed deep interest in ZdK works, especially in the light of the media reports about some of our church leaders on topics such as sexual abuse and homosexuality. The ZdK seems to be a good forum for dialogue and a fountain of sharing ideas between bishops’ conference and general laity, so that the Church can truly speak with one voice. It was refreshing to notice that the bishops and ZdK actually speak with one voice, albeit from different perspectives, about the social teachings of the Church, and that no noticeable tension exists between hierarchy and the lay body.

For instance, I had a short discussion with Aloys Buch, a leading professor of moral theology and a deacon, about the gay marriage discussions that are currently a hot topic throughout Europe. Apparently the German Catholic Church makes a distinction between civil unions and marriage. Prof Buch argued that the widespread demand for gay marriage, as opposed to civil unions, is not about natural justice, but about the desire for a “biopolitical tyranny to destroy marriage and the family as the most basic and crucial mediating social institution”.  I later discovered that Bishop Ackermann holds similar views. So there is a clear distinction made between gay marriage, which the German Church—like the Church everywhere—opposes, and same-sex civil unions, which would give homosexual couples all the rights of matrimony, except to call that union a marriage. While the legislation of gay marriage is not acceptable to the Church, for the reasons Prof Buch outlined, the legal construct of civil unions of same-sex couples appears to be tolerable.

I was embarrassed to admit there is a certain squeamishness about talking about these things as openly in the Southern African Catholic Church

Filed under: Catholic Church, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In between: interesting news from around the globe

This are different links leading to interesting and important news in the field of HIV and AIDS. Sometimes it is important to see, that there are encouraging news – even if it does not happen today or tomorrow. HOPE is the motor of life.

* HIV Drug Delivery Patch in the Pipeline

* R.I.P. HIV

* Legal matters: AIDS Is Not an “Automatic Death Sentence”

* Cure Watch

* HIV Therapeutic Vaccine Shows Signs of Promise

* Gold Drug Shows HIV Eradication Potential

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

Global Commission on Law & HIV/AIDS

Press release of UNAIDS:

Launch of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law:
“Addressing punitive laws and human rights violations blocking effective AIDS responses”

Geneva, 24 June 2010 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with the support of the UNAIDS Secretariat, launched the Global Commission on HIV and the Law today. The Commission’s aim is to increase understanding of the impact of the legal environment on national HIV responses. Its aim is to focus on how laws and law enforcement can support, rather than block, effective HIV responses.
The Global Commission on HIV and the Law brings together world-renowned public leaders from many walks of life and regions. Experts on law, public health, human rights, and HIV will support the Commissions’ work. Commissioners will gather and share evidence about the extent of the impact of law and law enforcement on the lives of people living with HIV and those most vulnerable to HIV. They will make recommendations on how the law can better support universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Regional hearings, a key innovation, will provide a space in which those most directly affected by HIV-related laws can share their experiences with policy makers. This direct interaction is critical. It has long been recognized that the law is a critical part of any HIV response, whether it be formal or traditional law, law enforcement or access to justice. All of these can help determine whether people living with or affected by HIV can access services, protect themselves from HIV, and live fulfilling lives grounded in human dignity.
Nearly 30 years into the epidemic, however, there are many countries in which negative legal environments undermine HIV responses and punish, rather than protect, people in need. Where the law does not advance justice, it stalls progress. Laws that inappropriately criminalize HIV transmission or exposure can discourage people from getting tested for HIV or revealing their HIV positive status. Laws which criminalize men who have sex with men, transgender people, drug-users, and/or sex workers can make it difficult to provide essential HIV prevention or treatment services to people at high risk of HIV infection. In some countries, laws and law enforcement fail to protect women from rape inside and outside marriage – thus increasing women’s vulnerability to HIV.
At the same time, there are also many examples where the law has had a positive impact on the lives of people living with or vulnerable to HIV. The law has protected the right to treatment, the right to be free from HIV-related discrimination in the workplace, in schools and in military services; and has protected the rights of prisoners to have access to HIV prevention services. Where the law has guaranteed women equal inheritance and property rights, it has reduced the impact of HIV on women, children, families and communities.
With more than four million people on life-saving treatment and a seventeen per cent decrease in new infections between 2001 and 2008, there is hope that the HIV epidemic is at a turning
point. To reach country’s own universal access targets and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), persistent barriers like punitive laws and human rights violations will need to be overcome.
UNDP Administrator Helen Clark believes that the next generation of HIV responses must focus on improving legal, regulatory, and social environments to advance human rights and gender equality goals. “Some 106 countries still report having laws and policies present significant obstacles to effective HIV responses. We need environments which protect and promote the human rights of those who are most vulnerable to HIV infection and to the impact of HIV, and of those living with HIV/AIDS,” Helen Clark said.
Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director has made removing punitive laws a priority area for UNAIDS. “The time has come for the HIV response to respond to the voice of the voiceless,” he said. “We must stand shoulder to shoulder with people who are living with HIV and who are most at risk. By transforming negative legal environments, we can help tomorrow’s leaders achieve an AIDS-free generation.”
The Global Commission on HIV and the Law is being supported by a broad range of partners and stakeholders, including donors such as the Ford Foundation and AusAID. Murray Proctor, Australia’s Ambassador on HIV, expressed strong support for the Commission and the work it is tasked to do. “We commend UNDP and the UNAIDS programme for courageously taking this work forward, and we welcome the opportunity to contribute and support.”
The Commission’s work will take place over an 18 month period –mobilizing communities across the globe and promoting public dialogue on how to make the law work for an effective response to HIV. The findings and recommendations of the Commission will be announced in December 2011.
For more information contact:
Adam Rogers | Geneva | Senior Strategic Communications Advisor |tel. +41 22 917 85 41| adam.rogers@undp.org
Natalie Amar| New York | Commission Secretariat |tel. +41 22 917 85 41| natalie.amar@undp.org
Saya Oka | UNAIDS | Geneva | Communications Officer |tel. +41 22 791 1697| okas@unaids.org
UNDP is the UN’s global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and our wide range of partners.
UNAIDS: Leveraging the AIDS response, UNAIDS works to build political action and to promote the rights all of people for better results for global health and development. Globally, it sets policy and is the source of HIV-related data. In countries, UNAIDS brings together the resources of the UNAIDS Secretariat and 10 UN system organizations for coordinated and accountable efforts to unite the world against AIDS. http://www.unaids.org

http://data.unaids.org/pub/PressRelease/2010/20100624_pr_lawcom_en.pdf

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, Politics and Society, , , , ,

16.10.2009 Back to the middle ages…

This article about Uganda shows, how critical it is to get informed decisions and at the same time void all attempts of countries to deal with the criminal code regarding HIV and AIDS.

Ugandan bill proposes death penalty for sexually active HIV-positive gay men

Homosexual acts are already illegal, but the Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposes the death penalty for those having gay sex with disabled people, under-18s or when the accused is HIV-positive

A Ugandan MP has introduced a bill which would impose the death penalty on HIV-positive gay men in Uganda if they have sex with another man.

David Bahati’s bill is seeking to introduce an offence of “aggravated homosexuality” which would also impose the death penalty for same-sex activity if one of the partners is disabled or under 18 years of age. An independent Ugandan MP, John Otekat Emile, is quoted by BBC Online as saying that the bill has a “99% chance” of passing. Earlier drafts of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 punish homosexuality with a massive fine of 10 million Ugandan shillings and a maximum of ten years in prison. The bill also seeks to punish the “promotion of homosexuality” – including funding and sponsoring LGBT organisations and broadcasting, publishing, or selling materials on homosexuality – with a fine and a minimum of five years in prison. According to the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission, anyone who fails to report known violations of the law within 24 hours will also be subject to up to six months in prison for neglecting to report in their colleagues, family, or friends.

The bill also claims jurisdiction over Ugandans who violate its provisions while abroad, so that, for example, a Ugandan citizen normally resident in the United Kingdom could be convicted and imprisoned if he or she visits Uganda, on the basis of allegations that they have committed any of these offences while in the United Kingdom. Uganda is a recipient of significant international HIV aid.Concern has been expressed that money from the US PEPFAR programme has gone to rabidly homophobic organisations. In 2008, activists were arrested at an international conference in Uganda when they protested against the Ugandan government’s decision that gay men would not receive any HIV resources. There has been an increasing level of discrimination and violence against people in Uganda because of their sexuality in recent months. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has highlighted the detention of four men for 90 days without trial under Uganda’s already draconian anti-homosexuality laws. A fifth man, Brian Pande, died in hospital of undisclosed causes in mid September. Anti-gay organisations organised a protest rally in Uganda’s capital Kampala in August. The IGLHRC has also highlighted that the proposed legislation is in direct contravention of numerous international human rights agreements to which Uganda is a signatory. Furthermore, they also believe that it violates several clauses of the Ugandan constitution, which supposedly guarantees the right to privacy, the right to freedom of speech, expression and assembly, the protection of minorities, and the protection of civic rights and activities.

This article was first published by NAM/Aidsmap.com and is copied from http://www.fridae.com

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, Politics and Society, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , ,

Blog Categories

Follow God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE on WordPress.com

15th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 31st, 2020
6 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2021

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 15th, 2021
13 months to go.

Stefan Hippler Twitter Account

You can share this blog in many ways..

Bookmark and Share

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,051 other followers

Translation – Deutsch? Française? Espanol? …

The translation button is located on each single blog page, Copy the text, click the button and paste it for instant translation:
Website Translation Widget

or for the translation of the front page:

* Click for Translation

Copyright

© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

This not withstanding the following applies:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

%d bloggers like this: