Action Alert: LGBTQI Groups’ Exclusion from AIDS Summit Risks Human Rights

Dear MenEngage Alliance members, partners and friends:

The High-Level Meeting (HLM) on AIDS (June 8-10, United Nations, New York) is a critical moment in the fight against HIV/AIDS: at its conclusion, the UN General Assembly will finalize a political declaration on AIDS that will set the tone for what Member States are committed to do in order to end the pandemic. MenEngage Alliance members have taken a proactive role in preparing for the HLM – including IPPF and Sonke Gender Justice, and African Men For Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) who moderated a panel discussion at the HLM civil society consultations held last month at the UN.

We are stunned and deeply disappointed to learn that 22 NGOs are being excluded – without explanation – from the HLM by more than 50 countries, including Russia and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Most of these 22 organizations represent key populations suffering disproportionately from HIV/AIDS. Many news resources around the world have already reported on the exclusion, including the Guardian quoting MenEngage Alliance’s objection to it.

We’re reaching out to you to ask you to join us in a global advocacy effort to challenge this discriminatory exclusion.

Please take a moment to sign on to a letter calling on the President of the General Assembly and other HLM organizers to reverse the decision. It states flatly that “exclusion is unacceptable,”and suggests that if the decision were to stand, “the General Assembly is sending a terrible message to the world that it is prepared to let discrimination and prejudice yet again hamper our collective efforts to end AIDS.”

Coordinated by ICASO, the letter has already been signed by nearly 200 organizations. You can add your organization’s voice by sending an email to Mary Ann Torres, MaryAnnT@icaso.org, copying Ana Teasdale, ateasdale@pangaeaglobal.org.

We’re also sharing advocacy points, entitled Ten Civil Society Priorities for Action Now, that a number of CSOs developed to support advocacy work with governments leading up to the HLM. Practical demands for national governments to meet are made according to the following ten headings:

  1. Leave no one behind
  2. Protect and uphold human rights
  3. Decriminalize HIV transmission, exposure and non-disclosure
  4. Ensure treatment access now
  5. Revive the prevention revolution
  6. Achieve gender equality
  7. Recognize and respond to HIV among socially marginalized groups
  8. Fully finance a comprehensive HIV response
  9. Support community responses
  10. Establish strong accountability mechanisms to ensure commitments are met

Many of these positions align closely with the Elements for a Platform of Action to Engage Men and Adolescent Boys in the HIV Response and Fast-Track the End of Aids that were drafted following a HLM that Sonke, IPPF and UNAIDS convened at UNAIDS Headquarters in Geneva last December.

We hope you join us in raising a collective MenEngage Alliance voice against an injustice that could have so many adverse outcomes if it is allowed to stand.

(Photo credit: UNAIDS HLM2016 website)