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UNAIDS calls on India and all countries to legalize gay sex

UNAIDS says it was a backwards step for the Indian Supreme Court to recriminalize homosexuality and has called on all countries with similar laws to repeal them to aid in the global fight to eradicate the disease
UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé
Photo by UNAIDS

The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has expressed deep concern at the Supreme Court of India's re-criminalization of adult consensual same-sex activity, overturning a 2009 Delhi High Court decision.

‘The Delhi High Court decision in 2009 had restored dignity for millions of people in India, and was an example of the type of reform we need for supportive legal environments that are necessary for effective national AIDS responses,’ said UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé.

‘We want government and civil society to be able to provide HIV information and services to all people, including gay and other men who have sex with men, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and for them to be able to access the services without fear of criminalization.’

The 2009 decision by the Delhi High Court to annul the law was widely considered a milestone against homophobic laws among Commonwealth nations and towards ending HIV-related discrimination.

In the past four years since the law was annulled, there has been a more than 50% increase in the number of sites providing HIV services for gay and other men who have sex with men in India, as well as for transgender people.

Sidibé said that, for the sake of public health and human rights, UNAIDS calls on India and all countries to repeal laws that criminalize adult consensual same-sex sexual conduct as such criminalization hampers HIV responses across the world.

‘UNAIDS urges all governments to protect the human rights of gay and other men who have sex with men, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, through repealing criminal laws against adult consensual same sex sexual conduct; implementing laws to protect them from violence and discrimination; promoting campaigns that address homophobia and transphobia; and ensuring that adequate health services are provided to address their needs,’ UNAIDS said in an appeal to United Nations member nations.

In the 2011 United Nations Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, all UN Member States committed to removing legal barriers and passing laws to protect vulnerable populations.

UNAIDS stressed the importance of decriminalizing homosexuality globally in its 2013 UNAIDS Global Report, published in September.

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