MSH President & CEO Dr. Jonathan D. Quick introduced the Hon. Michael Kirby during the AIDS 2014 opening session on Sunday, July 20.
Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH:
Distinguished dignitaries, colleagues, friends, ladies and gentlemen: Good evening.
This seems to be the “evening of the youth.” Let’s give another very warm thanks to Yhana Haule from Tanzania and to Ayu Oktariani from Indonesia.
It’s a pleasure being here on behalf of the Global Health Council to introduce the Honorable Michael Kirby, who will give tonight’s Jonathan Mann Memorial Lecture.
A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful conversation with Jonathan Mann’s daughter, Lydia. She described the joy and satisfaction he felt working with groups like TASO, Act-Up and other activist groups.
I asked Lydia what her father would say if he were here tonight:
“He would be so happy and proud of what, in the 15 years since his death, this community has achieved by working together.
“He would also share his disappointment at how much more is left to be done.”
The Jonathan Mann Memorial Lecture was established in 2000 to honor this outspoken & tireless advocate who put human rights at the forefront in fight against AIDS. Dr. Mann and his wife died tragically in a 1998 plane crash in route to an AIDS conference.
It’s devastating that the AIDS community has lost yet another outspoken pioneer in Joep Lange — and with him five others from our community. We honor them tonight as we honor Jonathan Mann, who we also lost prematurely.
Jonathan Mann fought vigorously for the voiceless, the vulnerable, the stigmatized. By making AIDS — and with it health — a human rights issue, Jonathan Mann inspired a generation of activists.
But his mission is not finished.
The proven power of human rights in the fight against HIV/AIDS has become a catalyst for defending human rights across the entire health agenda.
Human rights are at the very core of universal health coverage.
That’s why we at Management Sciences for Health, along with scores of NGOs and other organizations around the globe support countries that are pursuing the UHC vision of health for all.
Health for all requires access for all – and acceptance for all.
We cannot stand by and watch discriminatory laws against the LGBT community so audaciously violate human rights, as we have recently seen in several countries.
Dr. Mann believed that once you take away the rights of some, you’re on the path to erode the rights of all. This is why a courageous and passionate human rights champion like the Honorable Michael Kirby was chosen to give this year’s Jonathan Mann Memorial Lecture.
Michael Kirby is well known to many, perhaps most – in this audience. Michael Kirby was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He discovered he was gay as an adolescent. With that discovery came the recognition that the law was not always kind — or correct.
Michael Kirby came to believe that the rule of law,if it means merely enforcing the law, is not enough. The practice of law must always respect human well-being and human dignity.
He practiced law before his appointment as a judge in 1975. He rose through several courts to the High Court of Australia, from which he retired in 2009 as Australia’s longest serving judge.
Throughout his career, Justice Kirby has defended victims of unjust regimes, and promoted the cause of international law and human rights, a practice that won him the title of the “Great Dissenter” for not hesitating to differ with his legal colleagues.
He has been a strong opponent of the oppression and imprisonment of men and women due to sexual orientation or gender identity. He has played keys roles on UNAIDS, Lancet, UNDP, and other international commissions on HIV/AIDS, the law, and human rights, including the Commission on HIV and the Law, which Michel Sidibe mentioned.
His work has impacted human rights law and practice in countries around the globe.
In short, Michael Kirby has lived the principles that Jonathan Mann stood for: human rights, dignity for all, and the courage to speak out and take action to defend these principles.
On behalf of the Global Health Council and everyone in this hall whose lives are longer or freer because of his work, I am proud to introduce the Honorable Michael Kirby.