Russia, Iran, Indonesia, and a group of Gulf States are blocking life-saving HIV/AIDS work–religious people speak out

As the UN High Level Meeting on HIV prepares to issue a new UN Declaration on HIV/AIDS, advocacy organization and faith leaders speak out.

“For over 35 years, MCC has been on the frontlines caring for people with AIDS,” said global MCC Moderator, the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson. “We have advocated with governments at the same time as we have taught about prevention, cared for the sick, and buried the dead. People are still dying from AIDS today. It is beyond time for every government to show that all of its people matter.”

David Williams, a physician and the MCC Program Officer for HIV/AIDS, said, “AIDS is still a global medical crisis. Ending AIDS will only happen by the world moving forward together. Obstruction by a few governments cannot be allowed to pull the world back. The UN must not waiver in its commitments to eliminate discrimination, remove punitive laws, and address all barriers to HIV prevention and treatment for everyone, including for people in marginalized and criminalized groups.”

Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) leaders have joined with a coalition of advocacy organizations from around the world to call on governments of the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, South Africa, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Netherlands and other members of the European Union to demand that the new United Nations Declaration on HIV and AIDS include critical language regarding the needs of marginalized and criminalized people around the world.
The current version of the political declaration includes important new ambitious commitments such as delivering treatment to 30 million people by the year 2020, as well as bold new commitments by all member states to accelerate HIV prevention, treatment, human rights, and address gender-based violence. These areas of progress make the regressive action by some politicians in excluding realization of the rights of gay men and other criminalized populations all the more unacceptable, according to the coalition.

In preparation for the UN High Level meeting on HIV that started on June 8 in New York, the Declaration has been severely weakened due to obstruction by Russia, Iran, Indonesia, and a group of Gulf States. These UN members routinely deny access to quality HIV prevention and treatment services and violate the human right of men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, transgender people, sex workers, and other criminalized and marginalized groups.

MCC addresses human rights and justice around the world. As people of faith, MCC believes it has a responsibility to act on behalf of those who cannot effect change on their own. MCC endeavors to build bridges that liberate and unite voices of sacred defiance. MCC leads from the margins and transforms.