India passes ‘historic’ equality law for people with HIV or AIDS
India has passed a “historic” law ensuring equal rights for people with HIV or AIDS.
The Parliament in New Delhi unanimously passed The HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill, which outlaws discrimination against those with HIV/AIDS.
Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda called the legislation “historic,” adding that it showed the government “stands committed for free treatment of HIV patients.”
The legislation makes it so informed consent is needed from patients before any tests, treatments or research are conducted.
It is also now illegal for patient’s HIV status to be revealed without their consent.
Children with the disease will have the right to live in a shared household, and enjoy the facilities of that household to the full.
The Health Minister pledged that “whosoever who does not adhere to the provisions of the bill will be penalised.
“There will also be civil and criminal proceedings against them.”
He added that there had been “a need to provide an environment to such people in which they feel protected.”
The minister also promised that the government would promote research into HIV and create aggressive strategies around counselling and testing, especially in high-risk areas.
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The law is a welcome relief for many in India, with LGBT people in the country still suffering from discrimination.
Nearly half of all trans children are subjected to violence before they turn 18.
And figures released earlier this year revealed that the great majority of trans people in the country are missing out on the electoral process because they do not have sufficient ID.
Just four percent of the trans community are enrolled in voter lists, according to the Election Commission of India’s statistics.
Earlier this week, at least 300 people celebrated the first queer pride parade in Lucknow, a city in the north of the country.
Members from both the LGBT and straight communities took to the streets in solidarity nearly 18 years after Kolkata held the first pride event in the country.
And last week, the Indian government told its states to view trans people as equal, and allow them to use any public toilet they choose “without any embarrassment.”