Anti-gay laws are making AIDS crisis worse, says report
It is ‘impossible’ to tackle the crisis while the laws exist, says a new report.
The new report – issued by the Human Dignity Trust – has stated that as long as countries retain laws that criminalise homosexuality, the HIV/AIDS crisis will remain “impossible to overcome”.
Labelling the issue an “undoubtedly specific Commonwealth problem”, the report – produced for Prime Minister David Cameron – adds that the prevention of HIV among gay men in countries where homosexuality remains illegal is “difficult to address due to ‘double stigmatisation.’”
“There is a direct link between criminalising laws and increased rates of HIV, and the Commonwealth undeniably demonstrates this link,” it reads.
“The Commonwealth accounts for approximately 30% of the world’s population but over 60% of HIV cases worldwide.”
Of the 53 Commonwealth countries, a shocking 40 still criminalise homosexuality in some way.
The report estimates that some 2.9 billion people live in Commonwealth countries across the world, with an estimated 175 million identifying as LGBT.
In many of these countries, same-sex intimacy is punishable by imprisonment, corporal punishment or even death.
“You will never ever get the AIDS crisis under control while gay men are criminalised,” Jonathan Cooper – chief executive of the Trust – told The Independent.
“It’s literally not possible while gay men are shamed and stigmatised.”
Mr Cooper also noted that in most of the countries, anti-gay legislation was introduced in the 19th century – when the countries were under British rule.
Earlier this month, Sir Elton John claimed that the Queen could wipe out such laws – “with a wave of her hand”.
The music icon insisted that Britain could use its influence to “push a little bit harder” for LGBT rights in anti-gay Commonwealth countries.
“These laws come from the Commonwealth,” he told CNBC.
“These laws can be changed very easily by the Queen saying, ‘change the law’. I haven’t approached her about that yet.”
“These are old laws from the British Commonwealth, I mean these can be changed. And so the Queen could do that with one wave of her hand,” he said.