By Michael Adee, Ph.D.

Universal Human Rights Declaration @70: Standing Up for Human Rights

Today is the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. Michelle Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations offered a declaration celebrating this 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Bachelet calls us to breathe new life into the declaration. She says: “It is, I firmly believe, as relevant today as it was when it was adopted 70 years ago. It provides us with the basis for ensuring equal rights for groups, such as LGBTI people, whom few would even dare name in 1948. But, 70 years after its adoptions, the work the Universal Declaration lays down for us is far from over. And it will never be.”

Leading up to this 70th anniversary, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights organized “Shine Your Light for Human Rights” around the world, These Shine the Light events illustrate the wide range of human rights issues affecting people, communities and our planet. They also illustrate intersectionality—the interconnected nature of human rights. Read more

World AIDS Day @30: Remembering, Knowing & Caring

World AIDS Day was founded by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter in 1987 and they agreed that the first observance should be on December 1. Bunn was a broadcast journalist and Netter was a frequent contributor to the New York Times in the 1980’s. They were the first public information officers of the World Health Organization’s Global Program on AIDS. Their work drew attention to the AIDS pandemic, helped alleviate some of the stigma, and helped underscore the threat of HIV to people of all ages, genders and sexual orientations. World AIDS Day has been commemorated on December 1 since 1988, making 2018 its 30th anniversary.

Remembering

On this day, we remember those lost to AIDS-related illnesses. According to UNAIDS, we have lost 35.4 million people since the start of the pandemic and we lost 940,000 people due to AIDS-related illnesses in 2017. Let us remember, light a candle, say their names.

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Strategies for International LGBTQ Solidarity

Michael J. Adee, Director of the Global Faith and Justice Project, an initiative of the Center for Innovation in Ministry, offered an all-day institute on international LGBTQ issues at Creating Change 2018 in Washington, DC on January 25. The Creating Change Conference is the foremost political, leadership and skills-building conference for the LGBTQ social justice movement. It is sponsored and organized by the National LGBTQ Task Force, Washington, DC. Over 4,000 activists and movement leaders participated in the conference.

This institute was a historic first for Creating Change as its first all-day institute focused on international LGBTQ issues. Adee submitted the proposal and coordinated the creation of the institute upon its acceptance. Its title was “Crisis & Resilience: Strategies for International LGBTQ Solidarity” and 11 organizations joined the Global Faith and Justice Project in its creation and presentation. Over 100 people participated in the institute which included high school and college students to elders from across the United States and 5 other countries.

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What are the Appropriate Boundaries of Religious Liberty?

What are the appropriate and ethical boundaries of religious liberty at a time when religious liberty is being used as an excuse or sanction for discrimination? Groups of Presbyterian leaders across the United States are raising this question and it resulted in a ruling made by the recent 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

We are grateful this ruling On Clarifying the Position of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Regarding Appropriate Boundaries of Religious Liberty was adopted by the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) on June 23, 3018 in St. Louis, Missouri.

On Clarifying the Position of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Regarding Appropriate Boundaries of Religious Liberty


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A Resolution on Religious Freedom Without Discriminaton

There is a dangerous wave of religious liberty being used to sanction or justify discrimination across the United States and around the world. Most of this discrimination is against LGBTQ people and women with regard to health and reproductive rights. Claims of religious liberty to discriminate are a threat to the human dignity for all persons and a threat to the protection of human rights.

It is essential that people of faith recognize the human dignity of all persons and uphold the human rights of all persons and their families irrespective of their personal religious beliefs. Moreover, one would hope that religious beliefs that recognize the sacred creation and worth of all persons regardless of human differences would be the distinctive characteristics of their faith and actions.

We are grateful that the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) adopted this ruling, A Resolution on Religious Freedom Without Discrimination on June 23, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. This resolution was brought to the assembly by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

A Resolution on Religious Freedom Without Discrimination

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Lessons from Nature and the Import of Homophobia

Dr. Yvette Abrahams lives close to the earth, on an organic farm outside of Cape Town, South Africa and she cares deeply about the earth. As a LGBTI activist and an advocate for gender equality, climate change is her current ethical interest.

In nature, Abrahams reminds us that over 450 animal species exhibit homosexual behavior while only one is known to exhibit homophobiathe human species. In her article “Thank You for Making Me Stronger: Sexuality, Gender and Environmental Spirituality,” she locates species diversity in a pan-Africanist discourse which argues that the true cultural import is homophobia.

Thank You For Making Me Strong: Sexuality, Gender and Environmental Spirituality

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Unmasking the Colonial Silence: Sexuality in Africa in the Post-Colonial Context

Few persons are as passionately committed to the human dignity, equality and human rights of sexual and gender minorities in Africa than Rev. Kapya Kaoma. As a Visiting Research at Boston University’s Center for Global Christianity in Mission and an Adjunct Professor at St. John’s University in Zambia, Rev. Kaoma’s research and writing peel away the layers of colonialism, the influence of missionaries, imperialism and globalization to discover the indigenous expressions of gender and sexuality in Africa.

We are grateful to share this new article by Kaoma from the special issue “Sexuality in Africa” of the Journal of Theology for Southern Africa, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This special issue was published in July, 2016 and had its world premiere at the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.

Unmasking the Colonial Silence: Sexuality in Africa in the Post­ Colonial Context

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One Human Family: International Human Rights Day

Today is International Human Rights Day and a celebration of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations on December 10. 1948.

The Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that:
“The recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

The vision of this extraodinary declaration and those who envisoned the United Nations after two world wars that took millions of lives and left many countries devastated is of one human family. Read more

A New Language of Mourning for the Work of Justice

Fanny Ann Eddy was a courageous lesbian activist who lost her life in her pursuit of human dignity for LGBTI people and her vision for her beloved country of Sierra Leone to embrace all its children. Her amazing life and her senseless, brutal death provide the foreground for Dora King’s article, “Secrecy and the Poetics of Witness: Mourning Fanny Ann Eddy,” from Sexuality in Africa: July 2016 Special Issue, Journal of Theology for Southern Africa.

Secrecy and the Poetics of Witness: Mourning Fanny Ann Eddy

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African Faith Voices: A New Conversation about Sexuality in Africa

A new website dedicated to sharing and amplifying African faith voices on gender and sexual diversity across Africa is being launched today. The core source of these African faith voices is the special issue “Sexuality in Africa” of the Journal of Theology for Southern Africa. This journal is published by the School of Religion, Philosophy, and Classics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Gerald West serves as the General Editor and Janet Trisk is the Editor of the Journal of Theology for Southern Africa.

This periodical is indexed in the ATLA Religion Database and correspondence and subscriptions for the journal are available from the School of Religion, Philosophy, and Classics. To purchase copies of the journal, please contact the administrator at jtsa@ukzn.ac.za.

This special issue emerged from a historic consultation about Religion and Human Sexuality in Africa organized by Michael J. Adee, Geronimo Desumala and Kapya Kaoma. This consultation was supported by the Global Faith and Justice Project of the Horizons Foundation; Political Research Associates and the Reference Group on Human Sexuality of the World Council of Churches. It was held August 28 – 31, 2014 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Read more