Challenging the criminalisation of LGBT people

Published: February 21, 2015

Denis LeBlanc
Original Article:

Recommendations for governments, multilaterals, companies and NGOs

“The criminalisation of sex between men will remain a focus of our advocacy, because these laws undermine effective HIV programming and violate the human rights of the people we serve.”  HIV, health and rights: sustaining community action. Strategy of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, 2013-2020.

It is a crime to be gay in over 70 countries, with punishments including life imprisonment, flogging and the death penalty. The last two years have brought a new wave of criminalisation. Russia, Nigeria and Uganda have all introduced new laws which ban private and public expressions of homosexuality, while in December 2013 the Indian Supreme Court overturned an earlier High Court ruling that section 377 of the Indian Penal Code did not apply to same sex acts among consenting adults.

As a result of criminalisation, alongside wider stigma and discrimination, men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people face crisis levels of HIV infection. Globally, MSM are 19 times more likely to contract HIV than other men, while transgender people are up to 49 times more likely than the general population.

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