Lord Fowler, former Health Secretary in the Thatcher government who launched the Don’t Die of Ignorance campaign in 1987 was interviewed on yesterday morning’s Radio 4 Sunday programme in a segment about World AIDS Day. He was speaking yesterday evening at St Anne’s Soho and is giving a major speech today. He has just published a new book: Don’t die of Prejudice.
He said there is immense prejudice against gay people with 80 countries in the world where homosexuality is illegal. He condemned the churches including the Church of England for standing back rather than playing a campaigning part. He said they are not concerned with changing attitudes particularly as far as gay people are concerned.
“There’s a big revolution that has got to take place in the Churches. We’ve had this debate on equal rights of gay people. I think they should be totally in favour of that, and unequivocally in favour of that.
“I would like them to appoint gay bishops, and I would like gay clergy to have the right to marry like everybody else now has in this country. It’s about accepting gay people as a normal, straightforward part of this country.”
He commented about the fight against HIV: “There’s an immense problem here, an immense issue here, and it acts as an enormous barrier to people coming forward for testing. I’d like to see the Churches playing a campaigning part. The more we can have of that kind of scheme, the better it will be. My view is, I fear to say, that over the last years, the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church have stood back. If you go to Uganda, for example, the Anglican Church, they support the repression that is taking place there.”