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UNAIDS Condemns Criminalizing Being Gay


The United Nations' Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS, released a statement on Tuesday calling for nations to stop criminalizing LGBT people.

According to the organization, 80 nations still have laws that criminalize gay sex. The organization claims that such laws not only violate human rights, but also undermine effective HIV treatment.

"The human rights of people living with HIV, men who have sex with men, lesbians and transgender people must be fully respected," UNAIDS stated in a press release on its website. "Where they have been able to access HIV information, prevention and treatment and avoid discrimination, these populations have become a force for health and community empowerment."

In its statement, released to coincide with World Aids Day, the organization praises Delhi's high court for striking down antisodomy laws in India, and indirectly the group condemns Uganda's proposed "Anti-Homosexuality Bill."

The Ugandan legislation not only includes the death penalty for those who are HIV-positive and engage in gay sex but would also make publishing information or providing funds for gay activities a crime that could result in up to seven years in prison.

Furthermore, gays and straights alike could be jailed for three years if they fail to report the identities of people they know to be LGBT within 24 hours.

Quoting language from the Ugandan bill, the statement added, "UNAIDS calls for governments to refrain from laws that criminalize men who have sex with men, lesbians, and transgender people, as well as those that apply criminal penalties for 'promotion or recognition' of such behavior or failing to report such behavior to the police."

According to the latest estimate from UNAIDS, there are currently 33 million people living with HIV, with 2.7 million new infections in 2008 and 2 million deaths.

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