Sister Paula Brettkelly, a noted early worker for the rights of people with HIV in New Zealand, has passed away this morning. Sister Paula Brettkelly (Pic: Chris Sibley) A Wellington Catholic nun, Brettkelly became committed to the cause of destigmatising people with HIV in the early days of the epidemic when it was commonly characterised as 'the gay plague.' Her early advocacy was all the more unusual when set against many religious leaders' claims that HIV was somehow God's revenge against those who had 'succumbed to the immorality of homosexuality." Last year Brettkelly was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her lifetime of good works. Her nomination had been initiated by the NZ AIDS Foundation with additional support coordinated by gay MP and government minister Chris Carter. NZAF Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier said Brettkelly had been “a steady and consistent voice of reason and compassion" during the HIV epidemic, and lauded her "personal generosity, unflinching commitment" to the fight against HIV infection and the support of people with HIV. A feature by Jay Bennie about Sister Paula Brettkelly's life and work, a 2007 podcasted interview with her, and a memorial thread started on GayNZ.com's Forum are linked below.
Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff
First published: Sunday, 31st August 2008 - 11:17am
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