Via The Lancet: Criminalising homosexuality threatens the fight against HIV/AIDS. Excerpt:
Homosexuality is criminalised in more than 70 countries, with severe implications for the health and wellbeing of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
Recent developments in several countries such as India, Uganda, and Nigeria—where HIV/AIDS remains a pressing public health issue—to reintroduce or strengthen criminalisation of homosexuality holds deep ramifications for patients and health-care workers tackling HIV/AIDS. Although temporarily thwarted in Uganda, the alleged proposal to criminalise a failure to “report” gay persons adds to the alarm.
The success of the global campaign to reduce HIV transmission, radically improve antiretroviral therapy access, and maintain patient adherence has been rooted in the basis that tackling the heterosexual and homosexual epidemics collectively, through a respect for the rights of all people, including those most vulnerable to HIV, is the optimum approach.
Criminalising homosexuality might do untold damage to HIV treatment and prevention efforts that have succeeded in engaging with the homosexual community, a feeling recently expressed by HIV/AIDS physicians in Europe. LGBT persons might already encounter stigma and discrimination at home and the workplace, making engagement with health-care programmes challenging; the prospect of criminal prosecution could dissuade them from seeking medical help altogether.
Will health-care workers be afforded protection to treat homosexual patients in confidence? Or will they be under actual or perceived duress to report members of the homosexual community to authorities? These questions hold implications not only for the HIV/AIDS community, but the medical community as a whole.
They threaten both the trust placed in health-care professionals and their efforts to achieve universal health coverage. Finally, public attention and advocacy should rightly be invested in campaigning against legislation changes in countries; however, equal attention is needed in settings in which they are already in law.