Tag Archives: Desmond Tutu

A special message from our international patron, Desmond Tutu on World AIDS Day

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, LASS’s International Patron has sent a special video message from Cape Town to mark 1st December, World AIDS Day, for LASS.

“God, you love us all especially those of your children who suffer. We think at this time on Worlds AIDS Day of those who have HIV/AIDS. Help them not to despair, help those who work to combat this pandemic. Thank you that it is reducing. May those who are ill take their treatment regularly”

-Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu (November 2013)

LASS is a service user and volunteer charitable agency which works to prevent the spread of HIV and to promote positive sexual health through education, training, and community initiatives. By working together with other agencies, we play a major part in developing a coordinated response to the challenges of HIV/AIDS. We provide support for HIV positive people and HIV education and awareness across the communities.

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu urges Uganda to drop the “Anti Homosexuality Bill”


Our International Patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been a tireless campaigner for health and human rights, and has been particularly vocal in support of controlling TB and HIV.  He is also Patron of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, a registered Section 21 non-profit organisation, and has served as the honorary chairman for the Global AIDS Alliance and is patron of TB Alert, a UK charity working internationally.  In 2003 the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre was founded in Cape Town, while the Desmond Tutu TB Centre was founded in 2003 at Stellenbosch University. Tutu suffered from TB in his youth and has been active in assisting those afflicted, especially as TB and HIV/AIDS deaths have become intrinsically linked in South Africa.

On 20 April 2005, after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as Pope Benedict XVI, Tutu said he was sad that the Roman Catholic Church was unlikely to change its opposition to condoms amidst the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa: “We would have hoped for someone more open to the more recent developments in the world, the whole question of the ministry of women and a more reasonable position with regards to condoms and HIV/AIDS.”

In 2007, statistics were released that indicated HIV and AIDS numbers were lower than previously thought in South Africa. However, Tutu named these statistics “cold comfort” as it was unacceptable that 600 people died of AIDS in South Africa every day. Tutu also rebuked the government for wasting time by discussing what caused HIV/AIDS, which particularly attacks Mbeki and Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang for their denialist stance.

Presently, Desmond Tutu urges Uganda to drop bid to jail gays and lesbians.

He has urged Uganda to scrap a controversial draft law that would send gays and lesbians to jail and, some say, put them at risk of the death penalty.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is expected to become law after Parliamentary Speaker Rebecca Kadaga offered it to Ugandans as a “Christmas gift.” The bill is believed to exclude the death penalty clause after international pressure forced its removal, but gay rights activists say much of it is still horrendous.

“I am opposed to discrimination, that is unfair discrimination, and would that I could persuade legislators in Uganda to drop their draft legislation, because I think it is totally unjust,” Tutu told reporters here on Tuesday at the All Africa Conference of Churches meeting.

Desmond Tutu is the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and was a hero of the anti-apartheid movement, he has emerged as a leading pro-gay voice both in the church and across Africa.

With African church leaders passionately preaching against homosexuality as sinful and against African culture, Tutu said the church must stand with minorities.

“My brothers and sisters, you stood with people who were oppressed because of their skin color. If you are going to be true to the Lord you worship, you are also going to be there for the people who are being oppressed for something they can do nothing about: their sexual orientation,” he said.

Tutu said people do not choose their sexual orientation, and would be crazy to choose homosexuality “when you expose yourself to so much hatred, even to the extent of being killed.”

“Kill The Gays” bill: Read the actual bill about to be debated by Uganda’s Parliament | VIDEO

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We’ve Got Something To Shout About!!

The trustees of LASS are pleased to present their report together with the financial statements for Leicestershire AIDS Support Services for the year ending 31st March 2012.

The Board and all of the team at LASS are particularly pleased that Archbishop Desmond Tutu has, this last year agreed to be our international patron. This is a particularly significant accolade given that the Archbishop is reducing his commitments in the light of his advancing years, yet he saw fit to honour LASS with his patronage. The board sees this as no small endorsement of the achievements of LASS over the years.

Those who read our annual report will not need to have a reminder that the general economic environment in which LASS woks, remains very challenging indeed. There is no sign of that environment improving any time soon.

For some years now LASS has had to work very hard to maintain its financial position. This work is vital in order that LASS can continue to meet the needs of those living with HIV across the City of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. The CEO, Jenny Hand, and her team have worked very hard in recent years to maintain our income streams which enable LASS to continue to provide our services both direct and educational. The Chair and board are very grateful to Jenny and her team at LASS for their hard work.

Furthermore, the Chair and the board would like to express our gratitude to our core funders, the many volunteers who work with LASS and the many other stake holders for their support over the last year.

The year has been very much one of perpetual change and on-going improvement. Change has been internal and external, expected and unforeseen, some slower than expected and some quicker, some we have tried to challenge and influence and other change has influences far beyond the small charity of LASS or the world of HIV. We know that demographic shifts together with changes in funding, provision and access to health and social care mean that we need to deliver our services differently and during the year have taken on several new opportunities to test out and develop new ways of working.

Our work has been strengthened through inter-team joint working weekly staff briefings as well as monthly meetings, university students on placement and volunteer mentors.

We have been active in partnerships – working with other local VCS sexual health providers to influence the sexual health strategy, with Leicester Partnership Trust in bids for work in local prisons, with local community groups to extend services to their members, for example, the Zimbabwe Association, the Congolese Mutual Group, Sisters from Islam and the East Midlands African HIV Partnership, to mention just a few.

Our HIV community testing has gone from strength to strength with a fantastic report on the impact of the testing training on up take of tests in the African communities. This work is strengthened by our relationship and funding through the African Health Policy Network (AHPN).

We have welcomed many visitors during the year including the Health Minister from Gambia, our own local MP, Liz Kendall, the Lord Mayor, the City Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Chief Operating Officer, colleagues from HIV services across the East and West Midlands, and bishops from Tanzania.

Our biggest achievements were to be highly commended in the National Charity Awards and gaining Investors in People status. For this and all our developments, we thank our service users, volunteers, trustees and staff. Without all their hard work and commitment, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Well done to everyone!

Please click here for your copy of our Annual Report.

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Desmond Tutu calls for end to gay stigma to help tackle HIV

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for homosexuality to be decriminalised to help tackle HIV.

His comments come in an analysis in The Lancet journal of why incidence of the virus continues to grow among men who have sex with men.

Dr Tutu said anti-homosexuality laws would in the future be seen as “wrong” as apartheid laws are now.

Campaigners said it was important for community leaders to speak out.

The archbishop is patron of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, based in Cape Town, which provides treatment for HIV and carries out research.

Writing in The Lancet, he said: “In the future, the laws that criminalise so many forms of human love and commitment will look the way apartheid laws do to us now – so obviously wrong.

“Never let anyone make you feel inferior for being who you are. When you live the life you were meant to live, in freedom and dignity”.

Also writing in The Lancet, an international team of researchers, led by Prof Chris Beyrer of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US, said men who have sex with men (MSM) bore a “disproportionate burden” of HIV.

The fact HIV was first identified in gay men has “indelibly marked the global response” and “stigmatised those living with the virus”, they said.

The researchers’ paper said there was optimism among HIV specialists about the potential to use prevention, such as the drug Truvada, to reduce levels of HIV in men who have sex with men.

Earlier this week, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Truvada for preventative use in those at high risk of infection and who may engage in sexual activity with HIV-infected partners, the first time it has approved a drug to prevent HIV infection.

‘Struggle for equity’

But the international team said the picture was very different in many other countries.

“In too many settings in 2012, MSM still do not have access to the most basic of HIV services and technologies such as affordable and accessible condoms, appropriate lubricants and safe HIV testing and counselling,” they said.

“The struggle for equity in HIV services is likely to be inseparably linked to the struggle for sexual minority rights—and hence to be both a human rights struggle, and in many countries, a civil rights one.”

The paper, published on the eve of the international Aids 2012 conference, adds that by the end of 2011, only 87 countries had reported prevalence of HIV in MSM.

Data is most sparse in the Middle East and Africa, where homosexual activity is a criminal offence.

The researchers call for same-sex relations to be decriminalised in all countries, so that a true picture of the scale of HIV in men who have sex with men can be ascertained.

A spokeswoman for the UK’s Terrence Higgins Trust said: “We’ve got to have community leaders and people with influence speaking out.

“That’s why what Desmond Tutu is saying is so important.”

And she said it was right to focus efforts on men who have sex with men, in all countries.

She added: “In London, one in seven gay men has HIV.”

Original Article via BBC

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Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu honours Leicester HIV charity with new role as International Patron of LASS

Image: © Danie Nell Dreamstime.com

Leicestershire AIDS Support Services (LASS) is extremely honoured to announce Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in the new role of LASS’s International Patron. The Archbishop’s commitment comes as LASS prepares to launch the charity’s 25th Anniversary Year in June.

It is the first time in its history that LASS has sought the support of a patron and the acceptance of this position by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu reflects the extensive variety of challenges that working in HIV presents. Jenny Hand, CEO of LASS, explains:

“For LASS to be supported and valued by a man of such international stature is incredible. The Archbishop’s untiring work in human rights, particularly in Southern Africa, and in the field of HIV/AIDS, together with his extraordinary ability to reach across communities, inspired LASS to approach him. His patronage reflects the diverse range of communities LASS works with and gives us a new sense of purpose and energy. We could not have asked for a better way to mark the launch of our 25th Anniversary Year and embolden our service users, staff and volunteers as we face the challenges that lie ahead.”

In approaching Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu LASS described the charity’s journey, from starting as a struggling telephone help-line in June 1987 for people affected by HIV and AIDS, to becoming Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland’s leading cross-community HIV charity today, currently supporting over 500 people affected by HIV; leading the way with its innovative community Rapid HIV Testing initiative; delivering education and training in sexual health in schools and community settings and challenging the stigma and ignorance that is still attached to HIV.

In accepting the invitation Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu explained that, as a retired octogenarian, he had been reducing his commitments. However, he was touched by LASS’s story and has decided to make an exception, agreeing to be the charity’s International Patron. Patrick Bowe, Chair of the LASS Board of Trustees comments:

“This is also a very positive reflection on our home of Leicester, which the Archbishop is already familiar with through the University of Leicester. The extraordinary diversity of the city’s communities, the work done in the city to maintain community harmony and LASS’s commitment to working across faiths and communities were also drawn to the Archbishop’s attention. It is for these reasons also that LASS believes no better figure could have been welcomed as our International Patron than Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.”

LASS will be launching its 25th Anniversary Year with an Anniversary Boat Race in Humberstone Gate, Leicester City Centre, on 9 June. This event will reflect the fact that in 25 years the reality of HIV in the UK has changed enormously and it is possible, with early diagnosis, to live a long, healthy and active life with HIV. It will be the first in a number of initiatives throughout the coming year. The Anniversary Boat Race will also reflect the fact that HIV affects everyone, no matter which community or world continent they are from, and is something to address rather than shy away from.

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