IPPF commemorates the life of Dr Robert Carr—colleague, friend and human rights champion—and will honour his legacy
The global fight against HIV has generated many champions over the last 30 years, and the world has sadly now lost one of its true defenders of human rights—Dr Robert Carr—someone who stood up for those who were often overlooked by many or living in the margins of society. Robert was a man of absolute integrity whose honesty and passion for the greater acceptance of the rights of vulnerable people in the world often cut through the hypocrisy. Robert still had much more to contribute through his advocacy on sexual rights, his role as the civil society co-chair of the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS and on the Board of the Global Forum on MSM and HIV, and his endless championing of issues facing gay and other men who have sex with men around the world. He has gone too soon, but his legacy will no doubt continue to inspire action and commitment in these important areas for many years to come. His spirit will hopefully inspire a new generation of leaders to take up the issues he so fiercely defended.
For many of us at the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) what started out as a strong working relationship turned into a formidable friendship and camaraderie. Robert had that unique ability to ‘blur the edges’; connect with different kinds of people and link people together. From the Caribbean to Canada to Kuala Lumpur below are some thoughts and reflections from colleagues and friends.
“Robert worked tirelessly for HIV in the Caribbean. It’s like the light of a star has gone out. Collectively we need to ensure that his insights and vision continue to be present in our work. His spirit will inspire us to pay attention to the unnoticed, spotlight what may sometimes be invisible, and persevere with his efforts to serve the most vulnerable communities at home and around the world.”
--Dr Jacqueline Sharpe, President and Chairperson of the Governing Council
"We are grateful that Robert came into our lives at the time that he did. His understanding and mastery of the sexual rights concerns of our Caribbean sub-region has brought our work to the attention of many allies. It is important that we continue the important advocacy work that he begun, or we would have allowed his legacy to die with him."
--Dona Da Costa Martinez, Executive Director, Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago
“Robert Carr was a longstanding colleague and friend of IPPF. His commitment to vulnerable people around the world—through his wisdom as a leader, his insight as a mentor, and his humility as a peer—was inspiring, and will be greatly missed by all.”
--Dr Gill Greer, Director General
“Outspoken, exuberant, passionate, spirited and always smiling, Robert had the same approach to life as he did to his work. And he lived each day to its full. Personally, I have a lost a dear friend and comrade. And the world has lost one of its greatest defenders of social justice.”
--Kevin Osborne, Senior Advisor HIV
“Rob was a powerful and unstoppable force with a strong commitment to human rights. He will heat a debate and always find ways to name the elephant in the room – he was not shy to talk about the need to stop the double standards and hypocrisy that permeates some of our work. He was a person of principles and integrity – and the sweetest man and dearest friend on earth! Working with Rob was amazing. His spirit and fierce determination will be with us forever. Rest in peace dear Rob.”
--Ale Trossero, Director of Programmes, East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office
“When I first met Robert Carr in London it was a night that was filled with loads of laughter, brilliant conversation, passionate debate and inclusion – but he called it "field work." I was dazzled. He became my friend and confident and to many people at an event in Toronto last year one phenomenal dance partner. Dance on Mr Carr!”
--Alastair Hudson, Stigma Index Team: United Kingdom
“I remember Robert as a person of the utmost integrity, yet full of laughter and fearless to speak his mind about issues passionate to him.”
--Daniel McCartney, HIV team
“With his sharp wit and incisive perceptiveness, Robert had a way of saying the unexpected and often illuminating the unspoken. I first met Robert at one of his many conference presentations, where he showed a news photograph of two men being ushered away from a shop into a police van, amid a violent onslaught from a small crowd. At first glance, the image appeared to show a prejudiced, destructive and pessimistic scene in Jamaica for gay men. Yet Robert spoke of the picture as a great sign of hope—of progress in Jamaica. The police in the photo were ‘serving and protecting’ gay men, rather than joining in or even initiating the violence. I have learnt mountains from Robert, and although we have many more mountains to go in terms of overcoming the issues he fought so passionately for, each step will be all the stronger, wiser and more determined for having known him.”
--Lucy Stackpool-Moore, HIV team