Churches: Barricades against exclusion
Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS, addressed the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches meeting in Busan, Republic of Korea, on 31 October 2013. Here are excerpts from his speech:
‘The AIDS response is the common entry point for so many of the issues of justice and peace that church communities are trying to address every day: pushing for equity for women and girls and an end to sexual violence. There is growing marginalization- people are excluded for their sexual orientation, for who they love and how they live. I am not here to promote homosexuality, or sex work or drug use, but I am here to promote the protection of those who are most vulnerable. We must ensure they are not hiding or being forced underground where they cannot access life-saving services. They should have an open door to come to your churches, and mosques and synagogues to ask for your support.
‘We must attack the stigma that separates humans into “deserving” or “undeserving” in the eyes of society and the justice system. We must recognize the dignity of prisoners and migrants, LGBT people, sex workers and people who use drugs. They are members of our families, churches and communities; they are our brothers, sisters, children, and friends. Many of them are young people—our future and society’s great hope. They deserve to be safe from unjust punishment, bigotry and violence.’…
‘Over the years you have generated an essential dialogue in faith communities about HIV, sexuality, stigma, discrimination and rights. Now it is time to push boundaries on issues of sexuality, stigma & rights. You must be barricades against exclusion.’