UNAIDS calls on countries to change discriminatory laws, policies in order to save lives
On celebrating Zero Discrimination Day, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) called on countries to examine discriminatory provisions in their laws and policies and make positive changes to ensure equality, inclusion and protection.
Last year, a number of countries made landmark decisions to change discriminatory laws and bills. Namibia on her part joined in on this, when Justice Minister, Sacky Shanghala, tabled a bill in the National Assembly to have repeal obsolete laws
The Repeal of Obsolete Laws bill tabled in November 2018 would scrap 144 laws and ordinances, dating back as far back as 1915 and up to the end of the 1980s, in one go.
UNAIDS recalls the equal dignity and worth of every person, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is calling for action to change discriminatory laws and practices, which are a significant barrier for access to health and other services.
“Human rights violations are happening all over the world because of discriminatory laws and practices. Laws must protect, not cause harm. All countries must carefully examine their laws and policies in order to ensure equality and protection for all people, without exception,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS in a statement.
UNAIDS has identified a range of laws that are discriminatory, impede access to health and social services, restrict freedom of movement and violate human rights. In 2018; at least 20 countries imposed travel restrictions of some form against people living with HIV, while around seventeen countries criminalized transgender people.
Furthermore, about forty-five countries had laws that impose the need for parental consent for adolescents and young people below 18 years to access HIV testing services, while thirty-three countries imposed the death penalty for drug offences in law and same-sex sexual relations were criminalized in at least 67 countries and territories worldwide.