UNAIDS calls for removal of discriminatory laws against LGBTI community
International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) is being observed today and the UNAIDS is calling on all countries to remove discriminatory laws against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.
Stigma towards key populations – gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, people who inject drugs and prisoners and other incarcerated people – is reinforced by criminal laws.
These in turn fuel violence, exploitation and a climate of fear, hindering efforts to make HIV services available to the people who need them. “We all have a moral and legal obligation to remove discriminatory laws and enact laws that protect people from discrimination,” said Gunilla Carlsson, UNAIDS Executive Director, that is “To end the AIDS epidemic, people need to be protected from harm. We need justice and equality for all.”
More than 65 countries criminalise same-sex sexual relations, including at least eight that impose the death penalty. Globally, gay men and other men who have sex with men are around 28 times more likely to acquire HIV than the general population and are much less likely to access HIV services.
In 2017, gay men and other men who have sex with men accounted for 18 per cent of new HIV infections worldwide. “It is critically important that we create a world where all people can access the health and social services they need without the threat of violence and discrimination.
Universal health coverage means reaching all people – sexual and gender minorities have the same right to health as everyone else,” Director General of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus related.
Transgender people, who account for an estimated 0.1–1.1 per cent of the global population, often face stigma, discrimination and social rejection in their homes and communities. Discrimination, violence and criminalisation prevent transgender people from accessing the HIV services they need to stay healthy.
It is estimated that transgender women are 13 times more likely to acquire HIV than other adults of reproductive age and that 16.5 per cent of transgender women are living with HIV. “Justice and protection for all are central to driving progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Enacting and enforcing non-discriminatory laws and policies, repealing punitive laws and ensuring access to justice for all are critical to delivering on the commitment to leave no one behind,” Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme Achim Steiner posited.
UNAIDS joins with the United Nations Secretary General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in calling for the decriminalisation of LGBTI people and for LGBTI people to be protected from violence and discrimination and to have full access to health and other social services.
IDAHOT, a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversity, is commemorated annually on May 17. Latin America and the Caribbean Latin America and the Caribbean have made significant strides in protecting and recognising the rights of LGBTI people.
Some key country achievements include the official recognition of gender identity for transgender people, the adoption of anti-discrimination laws that include protections for LGBTI people and measures to address the discrimination, violence and socioeconomic disadvantages that many in these communities’ face.
This year, Cuba amended its Constitution to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In 2018, Uruguay passed a model transgender law that provides for national registration according to gender identity, comprehensive healthcare as well as access to education, training and employment. In 2018 local, national and regional courts helped advance jurisprudence in support of equal rights for LGBTI people.
Last year the Trinidad and Tobago High Court ruled that laws criminalising sex between men and other consenting adults were unconstitutional. The Caribbean Court of Justice decided that Guyana’s cross-dressing law was unconstitutional and disproportionately affected transgender people.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Court for Oral Criminal Proceedings for the first time recognised the crime of “travesticide” – murder due to hate of the victim’s gender identity.
Despite these advancements, many LGBTI people throughout the region remain profoundly vulnerable to violence and face stubborn barriers to accessing justice, opportunities and healthcare,” said UNAIDS Latin America and Caribbean Regional Support Team Director, Dr César Núñez. “We need to find common ground that recognises and upholds the inherent dignity of every person”.