UNAIDS applauds Botswana's decision to decriminalise gay sex

UNAIDS applauds Botswana's decision to decriminalise gay sex
News
Posted on 13 Jun 2019

UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) has applauded the landmark decision of the High Court of Botswana to decriminalise gay sex. 


“This is a historic ruling for LGBT people in Botswana,” said Gunilla Carlsson, UNAIDS Executive Director, a.i. “It restores privacy, respect and dignity to the country’s LGBT people, and it is a day to celebrate pride, compassion and love. I commend the activists, civil society organisations and community groups that have campaigned so hard for this moment.”

UNAIDS has been working with LGBT groups, civil society organisations and other partners to promote a more enabling legal environment in the country. 


In recent years, the courts in Botswana have taken a lead in protecting and promoting the human rights of marginalised groups.

Criminalisation of consensual same-sex sexual relations is a violation of human rights and legitimises stigma, discrimination and violence against LGBT people. Criminalisation stops people from accessing and using HIV prevention, testing and treatment services and increases their risk of acquiring HIV.


Globally, the risk of acquiring HIV is 28 times higher among gay men and other men who have sex with men than among the general population and 13 times higher for transgender women. Prohibitive legal and policy environments and a lack of tailored services for key populations increase their vulnerability to HIV. 

UNAIDS is urging countries to ensure the full respect of the human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, through repealing laws that prohibit sex between consenting adults in private, enforcing laws to protect people from violence and discrimination, addressing homophobia and transphobia and ensuring that crucial health services are made available.


Continuing, Ms Carlsson said: “I hope that this decision reflects a move towards a more humane, compassionate and rights-based approach towards same-sex relations worldwide. It should encourage other countries to repeal unjust laws that criminalise same-sex sexual relations and block people’s access to essential services, including to health care.”

Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalised in at least 67 countries and territories worldwide.

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