The Dutch Riek Stienstra Honor of 2015 (Reverend Wielie Elhorst and UGOM rose as winners of this honor)

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“Uganda Gay On Move (UGOM)’s 2 years and six months work can be visualized in this honor. The Riek Stienstra Prize(Award or honour) of 2015 was given last week to two outstanding human rights defending performers in the Netherlands. One went to Rev. Wielie Elhorst of Protestantse church in The Netherlands and another went to Uganda Gay On Move, a group of LGBTIQ human rights defenders in the Netherlands”

Uganda Gay On Move (UGOM) made it to the Dutch achieves when nominated and won the Riek Stienstra award of 2015 4th of June 2015 for its great impact made in the area of advocacy, emancipation and empowerment of LGBTIQ community especially in the Netherlands for the last two years. This has come at the time when the human rights violations towards the most marginalised is on rise around the globe. It is a dedication to our fore father the late David Kato Kisuule and those that have fought so hard to bring a change. Reverend Wielie Elhorst of Protestantse Kerk in The Netherlands was another person awarded with the same honor that same evening for his great work towards the betterment of LGBTIQ community in the Netherlands.

This event was a congregation of various persons from and outside the Netherlands, representatives of different religions to Discuss sexual Diversity and religion.

Examples of David Bos who is working at the VU University and the University of Amsterdam. He Has published many publications on the acceptance of homosexuality among Moroccan and Dutch Protestant and currently he is working on a study (VU University and Utrecht) to public debates on religion and homosexuality.

Dr. Ludovic Zahed who is known as Europe’s first openly gay imam. Zahed is a
influential activist and advocates gender equality and liberalism. Zahed is Convinced
That it is possible to create a representation of the inclusive Islam, liberating
and peaceful. In his speech, he shared his views on the shared values of the
Islam and the West Concerning gender equality. He was Consulted as an expert on his
discipline by the British court (2012) and by the French Senate (2013).

The Riek Stienstra * Lecture 2015  was organized from the project “I Believe I Am Gay” by photographers duo Hadas Itzkovitch and Anya van Lit in collaboration with the Biblical Museum and COC Netherlands.

The festive closing event of I Believe I Am Gay will take place on 14 June from 15.00  (until 17.00) at the museum (Herengracht 366-368 Amsterdam) .One should take the opportunity to visit the exhibition one more time before it travels abroad outside the Netherlands.

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History and background about Riek Stienstra honour(Award)

Was a Dutch campaigner for the right to psychosocial care for gay men and lesbian women with HIV. Born on Dec 24, 1942, in Boornbergum, Friesland, she died from colon cancer in Boornbergum on Nov 20, 2007, aged 64 years.

Riek Stienstra was already involved in psychotherapy and counselling for homosexual communities when HIV made its first inroads into the Netherlands in 1982. At the time, she headed the cryptically named Organisation and Consultancy Bureau, which provided information services for gay and lesbian women, but immediately recognised the potential threat of the disease. “She took HIV very seriously and even went to the USA herself to see what was happening”, says Peter van Rooijen, Executive Director of International Civil Society Support in the Netherlands and former Executive Director of Aids Fonds and STOP AIDS NOW!, who first met Stienstra in 1985 when she hired him as a psychotherapist. “It was inevitable. Since her mission was to support gay men and lesbian women, embracing HIV is something she needed to do.”

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Stienstra’s background in the women’s liberation movement enabled her to bring important techniques to HIV/AIDS activism. “She knew how you make networks, how oppression works, why you shouldn’t hide away, being proud, stepping forward, and demanding the right to do so”, explains van Rooijen. “She was an icon in the gay and lesbian movement.”

After training as a social worker during the late 1960s, Stienstra moved rapidly into organised activism and, in 1974, became director at the Schorer Foundation, a Dutch activist group focused on ensuring that gay, bisexual, and transgender people have access to the information and facilities they need for good health and wellbeing. According to Minus Altenburg, who became Acting Director of the Foundation when Stienstra retired, in 2002, Stienstra took Schorer from being just a small local agency to become one of the biggest health promotion organisations in Europe. “Riek put health and welfare for lesbian women and homosexual men on the map”, says Altenburg.

Describing her as “a no-nonsense negotiator”, Altenburg says one of Stienstra’s main achievements at Schroer was to establish the first “buddy projects” in the Netherlands. Adapted from a similar scheme in the USA, this project started as a social guidance for people with HIV and AIDS, providing free home-care help and support, and then further expanded to also provide guidance for elderly gay women and men.

Van Rooijen recalls Stienstra’s strong character, and how that helped push forward the cause. “She was a real leader. Riek knew what she wanted. She was definitely the boss. You could get close to her but it was always obvious that she was in charge”, he says. “She was there all the time, she stayed around when it was difficult and was there in the end. Not bossy, but her power and her credits spoke for themselves”, he says.

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In addition to her directorship at Schorer, Stienstra maintained several positions with advisory councils and other organisations, such as Mama Cash, an international women’s fund, and was also part of an advisory group reporting to the Dutch Ministry of Health on women’s health issues, something van Rooijen believes may have been her most widely applicable work. In her farewell year at the Schorer Foundation, in 2002, Stienstra received the royal accolade of the Order of Orange-Nassau and it was only shortly after this achievement that her cancer was detected. In her last years, says Altenburg, she was surrounded by what she called her “mantelzorgnetwerk [volunteer AIDS network]” and these friends stayed with Riek until her untimely death.

Her great achievement, concur van Rooijen and Altenburg, was putting psychosocial support on the agenda in HIV/AIDS. “Thanks to her there was a clear right to this care from the beginning”, says van Rooijen. “She helped spread the understanding that next to prevention and medical care we needed to develop psychosocial care. It was thanks to her that it happened that fast and in such an integrated way”, he says.

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More is yet to be achieved, the journey has just began. Great thanks Hadas Itzkovitch and Anya van Lit masterminds of “I BELIEVE I AM GAY” for all their input.

“Human rights is our pride”

By UGOM

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