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NZAF awardee: Board is disoriented

Sun 30 Oct 2005 In: New Zealand Daily News

The NZ AIDS Foundation board stands accused of being strategically disoriented and placing the effectiveness of the Foundation at risk, ironically by a man it had just honoured for his assistance to the board. If the board members expected a night of 100% warm fuzzies as they celebrated the organisation's 20th birthday at Friday night's Gala (see separate story, link below), they must have been disturbed as gay rights campaigner Bill Logan strongly criticised strategic decisions the board is considering, moments after receiving a Lifetime Membership award for his years of advice to the board and management. A longtime Wellington political strategist who won respect for his work on the decriminalisation of homosexuality, Logan was amongst four people specially honoured by the board on Friday night for outstanding work in the fight against the HIV epidemic in New Zealand. Another recipient was fellow Wellingtonian Sister Paula Brettkelly who, in the earliest stages of the epidemic, fronted up to the Foundation's just opened Capital office offering to help out. Brettkelly became a tireless campaigner for compassionate and practical care for people with HIV and, as a Catholic nun, was a rational and sane voice in countering many irrational and bigoted pronouncements by the nation's churches. Nelson safe sex campaigner Kevin Jensen was another new Lifetime Membership recipient, in acknowledgment of his decades of school visits in the northern South Island, educating young people about homosexuality and the dangers of HIV infection. The fourth recipient was Neville Creighton of Auckland, the first executive director ot the Foundation and an ex-Presbytarian minister, counselor and mainstay of the Auckland Gayline and Gay and Lesbian Welfare services. Longstanding NZAF research director Tony Hughes was also commended for his two decades of service with the Foundation. But it was Logan who stole the show. After complementing the Foundation on its two decades of “amazing” work he admitted his background role in which he “looked for problems and warned... fought with the board and argued with directors... [and had] been persistently difficult and rude and undiplomatic.” He reminded the board and the assembled Gala crowd that 89% of HIV infections within New Zealand still happen to gay men and that the board and Foundation needed to remain gay-centred if the organisation was to retain “the authority to lead and consolidate changes in the sexual culture of men who have sex with men.” He received a round of applause when he stated that “gay men would not listen “to a non-gay organisation tell us how to have sex.” In an apparent reference to proposed constitution changes to be debated at the forthcoming Foundation AGM, Logan sternly lectured that “there are strong indications that the current Board is strategically disoriented... it has put the gay-centred character of the AIDS Foundation up for reconsideration... in this the Board has placed an important danger before us.” The Foundation's board has had a rocky year with strong community criticism over proposals to institute a 50% Maori quota system for board membership and the resignation of the new board chair, and first Maori chair, Clive Aspin, just weeks into his tenure after his denigration of the Foundation at an overseas AIDS conference were revealed, and concern was raised about the source information he used to publicly complain that the gay community in New Zealand was inherently racist.    

Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff

First published: Sunday, 30th October 2005 - 12:00pm

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