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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 20, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 21
African AIDS groups barred from UN conference
US protests
Section One
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African AIDS groups barred from UN conference
US protests

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Several African and Asian/Pacific Islander AIDS groups have been barred from a UN conference on HIV/AIDS after Egypt objected to their inclusion on behalf of the Islamic Cooperation group.

Among the groups excluded were African Men for Sexual Health and Rights, Ishtar Men Who Have Sex With Men, and the Asia Pacific Transgender Network. Other NGOs from Egypt, Guyana, Jamaica, Peru, and the Ukraine were also banned.

US Ambassador Samantha Power protested in a letter to General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft.

'We are deeply concerned that at every negotiation on a new General Assembly gathering, the matter of NGO [non-governmental organization] participation is questioned and scrutinized,' she wrote.

'The movement to block the participation of NGOs on spurious or hidden grounds is becoming epidemic and severely damages the credibility of the U.N.

'Given that transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population, their exclusion from the high-level meeting will only impede global progress in combating the HIV/Aids pandemic.'

Power's protest was joined by representatives of the EU and Canada.

No reason was given for the exclusion of some groups, but diplomats hinted that they were banned because they support LGBT rights in addition to promoting HIV/AIDS awareness.

Last year the UN stripped any mention of LGBT rights out of its agreement on development goals after Nigerian Ambassador Usman Sarki insisted that the final document be 'cleaned' of pro-LGBT language.

The Saudi Foreign Minister also warned the UN not to introduce issues that run 'counter to Islamic law,' like LGBT rights.

The international agency also sparked controversy by appointing Saudi Arabia to chair a Human Rights Commission panel on violence against women.

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