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Human rights not negotiable

By Rachael Espinet Wednesday, February 19 2014

Human Rights are non-negotiable declared Archbishop Nuncio to the Antilles, Nicola Girasoli at a panel discussion on human rights and HIV/AIDS.

This panel was held by the UNAIDS – the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, at their Caribbean Regional Workshop, called Integrating Human Rights into National Strategic Plans for HIV Workshop at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain.

“Human rights are not negotiable. We cannot compromise. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights cannot be compromised,” Archbishop Girasoli said.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris.

The Declaration arose directly from the experience of World War II, and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. The full text with all 30 articles is published by the United Nations on its website.

Archbishop Girasoli said the public must know about their human rights so that they could demand their rights be fulfilled. He said awareness of the Declaration of Human Rights is key to giving voice to the voiceless.

Archbishop Girasoli has been a minority rights teacher, and has taught across the world, and encouraged that everyone learns their rights, and not allow it to be compromised.

Regarding human rights and HIV/AIDS, there was a general consensus on the panel that stigmatisation causes a violation of a person’s Human Rights.

Archbishop Girasoli maintained that education on the issue was key to removing the stigma and viewing a person with HIV/AIDS as person who is sick.

“There is nothing wrong with them. People must know the scientific process. The stigma really begins at being aware that these people are just sick. They can live a life like everyone else,” Archbishop Girasoli said.

As people with HIV/AIDS are members of a minority group, Archbishop Girasoli said that Human Rights, which provide equality for all would give a voice to the voiceless in the society.

“I personally think that what really is missing is equality for all, especially the voiceless, which is difficult to do,” Archbishop Girasoli said.

When asked about human rights violations of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community (LGBT) discrimination with the media after the event, Archbishop Girasoli said the Church has a firm stance against discrimination, but will not comment on public government policy or laws.

An issue raised at the panel was young people, and preventing new infections in young people. Professor Christine Barrow, Professor Emeritus of Social Development at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill campus said when addressing sexual rights of young people, she said a comprehensive sexual education programme was a human right.

She further stated that young people in society were not a homogeneous group, and each young person would have different needs, particularly those in the LGBT community.

“We must highlight the rights of young gay men who are struggling with the sexuality that is seen as abnormal,” Barrow said.

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