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Archive for the ‘External Global Justice News’ Category

Moderator of MCC Mourns the Loss of Children and Adults in Connecticut School Shooting and Issues Call to Prayer

From the Office of the Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches
For Immediate Release: 14 December 2012

Moderator of MCC
Mourns the Loss of Children and Adults
in Connecticut School Shooting
and Issues Call to Prayer

 

Today, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of a child whose life changed the course of history, we are faced with yet another tragic violent outburst, this time at a Connecticut elementary school, where many of the victims were 5 to 10 years old.

 

If you are like me, it is hard to know what to say or do, but one hope I cling to is the power of prayer. And so I ask you to join me in praying now for all those loved and lost, as well as those who will be left to mourn and grieve during this season.
O God,
We remember the words of the Prophet Jeremiah
as we grieve the violent loss of life today ~
A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loudly lamenting;
it was Rachel weeping for her children…
We weep and cry out to you for the loss of children
and adults
to yet another senseless act of violence.
Surround all the families who are in shock and grief
in the light of your presence.
In the midst of all the confusion and anger and wondering why,
be our comfort and our peace.
You know, O God, what it is like to lose a child,
someone you love.
Help all of us to cling to that truth and find some hope in it.
We pray, too, O God,
for the moral strength to deal with the causes of such terrible violence.
Give us the prophetic courage to take on
unacceptable access to weapons
designed only to kill.
Pound on the hearts of our nation,
until at last all our weapons
shall be shaped into instruments of peace.
Help us as a nation do the right thing.
Help us all to find some comfort now in you.
In Jesus’ name we pray. +Amen
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson signature
Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson
This statement issued in conjunction with the Public Policy Team of the Global Justice Institute.
The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director.

Secretary-General’s remarks to special event on “Leadership in the Fight against Homophobia”

New York, 11 December 2012

Thank you all for coming to this remarkable meeting. What a meaningful way to commemorate Human Rights Day. I welcome all of the activists, supporters and others here today.

The very first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

All human beings – not some, not most, but all.

No one gets to decide who is entitled to human rights and who is not.

The United Nations has a proud record of combating racism, promoting gender equality, protecting children and breaking down barriers facing persons with disabilities.

We have a long way to go in all of these areas. But we are turning the tide on discrimination in both law and practice. Slowly, some old prejudices have started to dissolve.

Yet others remain in place, with horrendous consequences.

Around the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are targeted, assaulted and sometimes killed. Children and teens are taunted by their peers, beaten and bullied, pushed out of school, disowned by their own families, forced into marriage … and, in the worst cases, driven to suicide.

LGBT people suffer discrimination because of their sexual orientation and gender identity at work, at clinics and hospitals, and in schools – the very places that should protect them.

More than 76 countries still criminalize homosexuality.

I am pained by this injustice. I am here to again denounce violence and demand action for true equality.

Let me say this loud and clear: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are entitled to the same rights as everyone else. They, too, are born free and equal. I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in their struggle for human rights.

I am proud that as Secretary-General I have a global platform to highlight the need to end violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The United Nations should lead by example. I recently reiterated to all senior managers that discrimination against staff on the basis of sexual orientation will not be tolerated.  I have also asked that the UN’s rules and policies be examined to ensure that the rights of our LGBT staff are protected.

More and more governments are working to tackle homophobia. Last year, the Human Rights Council adopted the first UN resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, which expressed “grave concern” at violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights published the first UN report dedicated to the problem, which was then debated at the Human Rights Council, marking another UN first.

The past decade has seen far-reaching reforms in Europe, the Americas and a number of Asian and African countries … and extraordinary shifts in social attitudes in many parts of the world.

I applaud Argentina for introducing some of the most progressive legislation in the world on same-sex partnerships and gender recognition. I am pleased that we are joined today by Blas Radi, from Argentina, who helped drive the gender identity law adopted there earlier this year.

I also welcome Olena Shevchenko who leads an important human rights effort in Ukraine.

In a number of countries, including Ukraine, draft laws have been proposed that would criminalize public discussion of homosexuality – potentially making meetings such as this one illegal. I deplore these kinds of measures wherever they are introduced. They threaten basic rights, feed stigma and lead to more abuse.

We are also pleased to have Gift Trapence, a prominent human rights defender from Malawi. When I visited Malawi in 2010, two young men had just been sentenced to 14 years of hard labour for the so-called “crime” of celebrating their wedding. At my request, the then President Bingu wa Mutharika pardoned them, on the very day when I asked him, but he defended criminal sanctions. Now under the new leadership of Her Excellency President Joyce Banda, Malawi is weighing possible changes in the law. I hope Malawians take the opportunity to turn a page.

Distinguished friends,

We must all speak out against homophobia, especially those who are considered leaders in society as well as others in the public eye.

Let me say a big Bienvenido to pop sensation Ricky Martin.  Muchas Gracias! You are a wonderful role model for LGBT youth and for all people. Thank you.

I am again honoured to share the stage with Yvonne Chaka Chaka – a global superstar and a champion of development, including as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and Roll Back Malaria. Thank you very much.

Yvonne, you are known as the Princess of Africa. Today, you are our Queen of Equality.

Our guests – and you here today – have helped to open a door. We cannot let it close.

It is an outrage that in our modern world, so many countries continue to criminalize people simply for loving another human being of the same sex. In many cases, these laws are not home-grown. They were inherited from former colonial powers.

Laws rooted in 19th century prejudices are fuelling 21st century hate. In other cases new discriminatory laws are being introduced.

These laws must go. We must replace them with laws that provide adequate protection against discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

This is not optional. It is a State obligation, based on the principle of non-discrimination – a fundamental tenet of international human rights law.

We also need a broad public education effort to spread understanding and counter fear.

When I meet with leaders from around the world I raise my voice for equality for LGBT people.

Many leaders say they wish they could do more. But they point to public opinion as a barrier to progress.

I understand it can be difficult to stand up to public opinion. But just because a majority might disapprove of certain individuals does not entitle the State to withhold their basic rights.

Democracy is more than majority rule. It requires defending vulnerable minorities from hostile majorities. It thrives on diversity. Governments have a duty to fight prejudice, not fuel it.

I am deeply grateful to the cross-regional LGBT core group of Member States for bringing us together. I hope many other countries will join you.

You and I and people of conscience everywhere must keep pushing until we realize the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for all people.  The freedom, dignity and equal rights that all people are born with – must be a living reality each and every day of their lives.

Thank you very much.

Tell Your U.S. Rep and Senators to SAVE Vital Services

Tell Your U.S. Rep and Senators to SAVE Vital Services

Members of Congress will soon face big choices: will they make damaging cuts to nutrition, education, health care, housing, and more? Or will they prevent service cuts by asking the wealthiest 2 percent to pay more of their fair share in taxes? Will they favor defense contractors over human needs? Those concerned about promoting the common good, protecting the vulnerable, and rebuilding the economy have to speak out! Please send this email. We encourage you to change the text to reflect your concerns; or send it as is. But please be heard – and please forward this widely.

Click here to send an email to your Representative and Senators.

This is the text of the email people are asked to send (or they can edit the wording to personalize it):

Subject: Please prevent cuts to human needs programs; End upper income tax cuts

As your constituent, I urge you to follow these principles as you make budget and tax decisions: 1) protect low-income and vulnerable people; 2) promote job creation so all of us can share in restored economic growth; 3) increase revenues from fair sources; and 4) seek responsible savings by targeting waste in the Pentagon and elsewhere.

You can save vital services for low-income and vulnerable people by allowing tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent to expire. More than $1 trillion will be saved over the next decade if these tax cuts end. Asking those at the top to pay their fair share in taxes will allow needed investments in jobs, education, nutrition, health care, and housing. These and other services will help us now, and build for the future.

In the coming months, please vote to allow the tax cuts for the top 2 percent to expire in January 2013, and preserve tax credits for low-income working families. Please vote to avert cuts now scheduled for January in programs that prevent poverty and meet human needs.

We can make the investments needed for the common good if you take these responsible steps. Thanks for your attention.

Scenes from Rev. Pat’s Global Justice Trip to Malaysia

Rev. Pat with Pastor Pang Wei Yap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rev. Boon’s and Phineas’ Chinese Wedding Banquet held at Dragon Dynasty Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur on August 4th.   About 200 people were in attendance.  Although many predicted there would be government or police interference, perhaps in an attempt to scare people away,  the banquet went off without a hitch.  Rev. Boon’s family, including his mother and sister, were in attendance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Pang Wei Yap (far left) receiving the Youth Leadership Award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Samaritan MCC Kuala Lumpur Retreat

 

 

2012 AIDS Interfaith Pre-Conference Guide

CLICK HERE

INTERNATIONAL AIDS CONFERENCE: PRE-EVENTS SCHEDULE 20-21 JULY 2012

 Live the Promise: HIV and AIDS Campaign

Press Release

5 July 2012

AIDS 2012: Pre-conference events to inspire stronger faith action on HIV

Faith communities have long been on the front line of many responses to the challenges of HIV. At an interfaith pre-conference leading up to the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington D.C., people from many of the world’s major religions, including Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, will be exploring how their communities can further contribute to building health, dignity and justice in the context of HIV, and how they can fight stigma, rather than contribute to it.

The interfaith pre-conference, titled “Taking Action for Health, Dignity, and Justice”, will take place 20-21 July at Howard University, Washington, D.C.  Speakers will include Rabbi David Saperstein, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (USA); Maria Ziwenge, a young woman living with HIV from Zimbabwe; Ambassador Eric Goosby, United States Global AIDS Coordinator, and many other religious leaders and representatives in the global HIV response. Around 400 participants are expected to attend.

Three plenary sessions and numerous workshops will explore ways faith communities can use both advocacy and on-the-ground responses to address the root causes of vulnerability to HIV and promote more just, equitable and inclusive societies.

Many other faith-based organizations are preparing events in advance of AIDS 2012, demonstrating the diversity and active engagement of people of faith in responding to the HIV pandemic. An interfaith prayer service at the National Cathedral will be held Saturday, 21 July, in conjunction with the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt display.  A pre-conference for Roman Catholic participants will follow the interfaith pre-conference. Side events on ending sexual violence and exploring sexuality, justice and HIV will be featured on Friday evening, 20 July.

Details are below. More information on faith-based events held before and during AIDS 2012 can also be found at: http://iacfaith.net/interfaith

Interfaith Pre-Conference plenary program and speakers

All sessions below held at the Cramton Auditorium, Howard University.

Friday, 20 July

Opening Session, 9-10am

Welcoming remarks:

Peter Prove, Executive Director, Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance

Pernessa Seele, CEO and Founder, The Balm in Gilead

Paul De Lay, Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS

Keynote speakers:

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, USA

Maria Ziwenge, Young Women’s Christian Association, Zimbabwe

Plenary 1: Dignity, 10:30-12:00

[Focuses on inclusive religious and community responses which treat all people with respect and examines some of the social and legal barriers that prevent inclusion in HIV programs.]

Nick Stuart, President and CEO, Odyssey Networks (Moderator)

Panelists:

Swami Advayananda, International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Affected by HIV or AIDS (INERELA+), Réunion Island

Pablo Torres Aguilera, dance4life, Mexico

Bishop Yvette Flunder, United Church of Christ City of Refuge, USA

Faghmeda Miller, Positive Muslims, South Africa

Rev. MacDonald Sembereka, INERELA+, Malawi

 

Special Lunchtime Session: The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Faith-Based Organizations: Partners in Sustaining Community and Country Leadership on Global HIV/AIDS, 12:45-1:30 pm

Speakers:

Ambassador Eric Goosby, United States Global AIDS Coordinator

Dr Thomas Frieden, Director (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

 

Saturday, 21 July

Plenary 2: Health, 9:00-10:30am

[Examines the challenges in scaling-up anti-retroviral treatment and highlights opportunities for faith-based organizations to help increase access to treatment, both through advocacy and practical hands-on involvement.]

Canon Gideon Byamugisha, INERELA+, Uganda (Moderator)

Speakers:

Esteban Burrone, Medicines Patent Pool, Argentina

Pacem Suzen Kawonga, Community of Sant’Egidio – Dream Program, Malawi

Dr Ronald Lalthanmawia, Christian Medical Association of India

Ruth Messinger, President and Executive Director, American Jewish World Service

 

Plenary 3 and Closing Session: Justice, 2:00 – 3:30 pm

[Explores the attitudes, policies, social inequalities and practices that continue to make people on the margins of society most vulnerable to HIV and challenges participants to address these issues.]

Moono Nyambe, Global Network of People Living with HIV, Zambia (Moderator)

Speakers

Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Centre, USA

Rev. Nyambura Njoroge, Programme Executive, World Council of Churches, Kenya

Dr Rosalee Velloso Ewell, World Evangelical Alliance, Brazil

Closing address

 

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is the lead international sponsor of the interfaith pre-conference, working in partnership with The Balm in Gilead as the lead national sponsor. Additional co-sponsors include INERELA+, Religions for Peace, Asian Interfaith Network on AIDS, Catholic Medical Mission Board and the American Jewish World Service.

 

Other faith-based events in advance of AIDS 2012

 

Catholic Pre-Conference on AIDS

20 July, Welcome reception, 4:30-6:30 pm, Catholic Charities USA

21 July, 2:30-6:00 pm Catholic University of America

22 July, 8:00 am – 2:00 pm

Plenaries will address Faith, Spirituality and Pastoral Care in the midst of HIV  and the  Future Sustainability of Church-Sponsored HIV Programming: Holding on to Hope in the Face of Funding Cutbacks and Flat-lining. Workshops will address a youth-led, person centred response to HIV; HIV responses developed for different cultural and geographic contexts; examples of best practices in the Americas; men’s involvement in prevention of mother and child HIV transmission, religious efforts towards zero new infections among children. See http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/page.aspx?pid=2544

We Will Speak Out Coalition Event

Friday, 20 July, 6:00-8:00 pm, Ballroom, Blackburn Center, Howard University

Testimonies from faith leaders and survivors of sexual violence and community organizations who wish to engage and inspire participants to seek an end to sexual violence across communities around the world through a faith-based community response. See www.wewillspeakout.org

Sexuality, Justice and HIV, a Faith Roundtable

Friday, 20 July, 7.30-9.30 pm, Cramton Auditorium, Howard University.

Bishop Yvette Flunder will moderate a conversation focusing on the dynamics of sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity, engaging affirming faith perspectives at the intersections of justice and HIV.  The community is invited to participate in the conversation with an international panel of faith leaders. See http://faithinactioncoalition.org/ntl-fia-hiv-aids/

“From Darkness to Light”: An Interfaith Service of Hope and Commitment

at the time of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt display

Saturday 21 July, 7:00 pm, Washington National Cathedral

This interfaith service of worship calls upon us to remember those we have lost and those who continue in the struggle to live with dignity and worth in the face of HIV and AIDS. Throughout the service faith leaders and faithful persons from around the world will give witness to their faith which has supported them in their journeys while we consider who we are and whose we in the midst of this pandemic. Tickets for those not registered for the interfaith pre-conference (handling fee only) available at: http://www.nationalcathedral.org/events/Quilt20120721.shtml

 

Background for Editors

International AIDS Conferences (IAC) are the peak forum for those working in the field of HIV and AIDS, including scientists and researchers, policymakers, health professionals, people living with HIV, civil society activists and faith-based organizations. They are held every two years and often attract over 20,000 participants. AIDS 2012 is the 19th IAC, and the first time in 22 years that the conference has been held in the United States, following the lifting of entry restrictions for people living with HIV. See also www.aids2012.org.

Media interested in arranging interviews or attending one or more sessions of the interfaith pre-conference should contact Sara Speicher,

For more information on the interfaith pre-conference and other faith-based events at AIDS 2012 visit www.iacfaith.net .

Follow us!

Twitter @e_alliance or  #iacfaith.

Facebook:  Live the Promise Campaign: https://www.facebook.com/Livethepromise 

Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance: https://www.facebook.com/ecumenicaladvocacy

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is the most inclusive international advocacy network of churches and Christian organizations, with members representing Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox and Protestant traditions. Our members are committed to speaking and acting together on issues of common concern, currently HIV and AIDS and Food. As an alliance of 80 churches and church-related organizations located around the world with members and constituents in the tens of millions, we are called by our faith to stand for justice, peace and a sustainable world. www.e-alliance.ch

CNN and the Bus Filled with Nuns

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/topvideos/2012/06/20/nuns-on-the-bus.cnn

Save the Date: 23 July 2012 – AIDS CONFERENCE CONCERT!

U.S. Congress to Address Murders of LGBT Hondurans: Immediate Action Needed!

U.S. CONGRESS TO ADDRESS MURDERS OF LGBT HONDURANS YOU CAN HELP!

IMMEDIATE   ACTION NEEDED! Contact the Foreign   Policy Staffer in Washington DC Office of Your U.S.   Representative!

 

On   Monday, June 11, 2012, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) began   circulating a House sign-on “Dear Colleague” letter (found below)   addressing the murders of 70 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT)   Hondurans since the June 2009 coup. It highlights the recent murder of GLBTI   leader and candidate of the resistance LIBRE party Erick   Martinez, seeks specific information on the 2009 murder of LGBT coup   resistance leader Walter Trochez, and requests the outcomes of   the 10 cases that have been “closed” through the U.S. assisted Special Victims   Unit in Honduras.

Initial   signers of the letter include Equality Caucus co-chairs Reps. Polis (D-CO),   Cicilline (D-RI), Frank (D-MA), and Baldwin (D-WI) – and also Reps. Berman   (D-CA), and Schakowsky (D-IL). The deadline to sign on to this letter is   Wednesday, June 20.

We   need your help in   securing the signature on this letter of your rep and reps from your state. If   your rep is a member of the Equality Caucus in the House of   Representatives (see attachment) – even if they have never signed a   letter on Honduras – your rep will likely want to join in to sign on to this   letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The   Congressional Switchboard number is (202) 224-3121

If   you do NOT know you rep, type in your zip code this website: http://www.house.gov/representatives

Ask   to speak with the aide who handles foreign policy. Use   the script below in speaking with the aide. If the aide does not recall seeing   the letter, ask for his or her email address so that you can send a copy of   the letter (below).

If   the foreign policy aide is not is not available, ask   to leave a message on his or her answering machine. Be sure to ask for the   name foreign policy staffer so you can follow up.

Script:“My name is _____. I am a constituent in (town / city neighborhood). I am   calling to ask Rep. _____ to join in signing the Polis letter in seeking   information from the State Department about the 70 murders of gay, lesbian,   bisexual and transgender Honduran since the 2009 military coup in Honduras.   Has Rep. _­___ seen this letter? Can I count on him/her to sign on? The   deadline to sign on is March 20. Please call me this week at (your phone   number) to let me know if you have seen the letter, and if Rep_____ will sign   it.”

To   sign on to the letter, your reps’ foreign policy staffer must email Rafael   Reyneri in Rep. Polis office to inform him.

Gary L. Cozette

Honduras   Solidarity Network – Congressional Action   Team

Program Director,   Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America   (CRLN)

773.350.3518   cell

Open Letter of Gratitude to Rev. Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III

June 13, 2012

Open Letter of Gratitude to Rev. Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III,
Senior Pastor, Friendship-West Baptist Church

Dear Dr. Haynes:

I want to offer a note of gratitude for your willingness to step up and out by honoring and showing respect not only for President Obama in a recent sermon you gave, but also for affirming the dignity of all human-beings, specifically the marginalized and “outcast”, and even more specifically same-gender loving people. Just as President Obama has used the highest office of our country to call for inclusion of all in our democracy, you have used the highest platform of the church, specifically that of the Black church, the pulpit, to give voice to what too often remains unspoken. Thank you for using your position and the pulpit in a manner that reminded me of our roots in finding in spirituality a call to do justice and an obligation to challenge the system and status quo at all levels. I trust that your witness to the gospel as you understand, and apparently live into it, will be an example for others to add their voices to a call to do right by all and for all. Your affirmation of the sacred value of lesbian and gay persons is courageous, righteous, and inspiring. And I, for one, want to thank you. As an out gay minister with the Metropolitan Community Churches on staff at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale, FL and former Baptist, your words touched a part of my spirit that reminded me of what the Baptist church was and can still be – a courageous, autonomous, prophetic voice crying out and answering the call “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6.8 Please know that I believe that the mustard seeds of your words will and have already had an impact not just on you and your local congregation but also on our nation. Your voice was needed for such a time as this! Thank you and may God continue to bless you, your family and your ministry.

Sincerely,

Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin
Sunshine Cathedral
Ft. Lauderdale, FL