Resource Logo
CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

AUSTRALIA: Commonwealth Urged to Tackle Homophobic Laws




 

Agence France Presse (10.25.11) - Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) this week in Perth, leaders tasked with developing reform options for member nations said homophobia and laws that criminalize gay sex must be addressed.

Anti-gay statutes are still in force in 41 of 54 Commonwealth nations. "It's a very special British problem. And the problem is it makes it very difficult to get messages about HIV out," said Michael Kirby, a retired High Court judge and Australia's representative on the Eminent Persons Group (EPG).

Kirby expects cultural and religious objections from member nations, mainly comprising former British colonies from Canada to Cameroon and from New Zealand to Nigeria. "But you need to remove the criminal laws, and that is what the [EPG] is suggesting for the CHOGM meeting," Kirby said.

Though not every Commonwealth country actively prosecutes gays, the effect of punitive laws is the creation of an environment in which people are fearful about seeking help or advice, said Rob Lake, executive director of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations. "When people are forced to hide, or cover who they are and what they do ... they are not the people who get the messages about prevention, get the messages about treatment," he said. "And that's one of the factors in these high rates in Commonwealth countries," which are home to some 30 percent of the world's population but 60 percent of HIV/AIDS cases.

CHOGM leaders also will debate whether the body should adopt a charter of common values and create an office of commissioner for democracy, rule of law, and human rights.



 


Copyright © 2011 -CDC Prevention News Update, Publisher. All rights reserved to Information, Inc., Bethesda, MD. The CDC National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention provides the following information as a public service only. Providing synopses of key scientific articles and lay media reports on HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis does not constitute CDC endorsement. This daily update also includes information from CDC and other government agencies, such as background on Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) articles, fact sheets, press releases and announcements. Reproduction of this text is encouraged; however, copies may not be sold, and the CDC HIV/STD/TB Prevention News Update should be cited as the source of the information. Contact the sources of the articles abstracted below for full texts of the articles.



Information in this article was accurate in October 25, 2011. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.