Homophobic governments block gays from UN AIDS conference

Tony Grew June 5, 2008
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Lesbian and gay and sexual health groups from Jamaica, Zimbabwe and Egypt have been excluded from a major international conference on HIV/AIDS organised by the United Nations General Assembly.

The UN meeting is intended to review progress in the fight against AIDS.

Representatives of the governments of those three countries, all of which are openly homophobic, complained about the presence of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), and the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG).

They were all initially included on the President of the General Assembly’s list of human rights groups and international AIDS organisations taking part in next week’s high-level meeting.

However, after complaints from Egypt, Zimbabwe, and Jamaica they were denied accreditation.

The General Assembly accepted their respective governments’ objection.

“J-FLAG is extremely disappointed by this move,” said Jason McFarlane, programme manager of J-FLAG.

“The Jamaican government itself has acknowledged that homophobia is fuelling our HIV epidemic.

“Silencing J-FLAG Jamaica’s, only LGBT organisation, undermines Jamaica’s efforts to combat HIV/AIDS.”

General Assembly meetings in 2001 and 2006 resulted in commitments by all member states to halt and reverse the HIV epidemic by 2010 and to achieve “universal access” to HIV prevention, care, and treatment.

“This meeting is about expanding access to HIV prevention and treatment,” said Joe Amon, HIV/AIDS programme director at Human Rights Watch.

“It’s hypocritical and counterproductive for UN member states to block organisations from attending who are working to ensure that HIV information and services are truly available to all.”

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