Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gay and Lesbian: Burundi - protecting rights of gay men

The United Nations agency charged with coordinating the fight against HIV/AIDS today welcomed a Senate decision in Burundi overwhelmingly rejecting a bill which sought to outlaw homosexuality.

Burundi’s lawmakers voted against an amendment to the penal code which included provisions for the imprisonment of people involved in gay and lesbian sexual relationships.

“By rejecting this amendment, Senators in Burundi have protected the human rights of their people,” said Michel SidibĂ©, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

“They have also set a standard for other lawmakers around the world to follow their example in stopping laws that block the AIDS response.”

The agency stressed that criminalizing consensual adult sexual behaviour and violating the human rights of those living with HIV obstructs prevention programmes and blocks access to treatment for people living with the disease.

Such measures not only violate the human rights of individuals, but further stigmatize homosexual communities, UNAIDS noted in a press release, highlighting that 84 countries currently have legislation banning same-sex relationships.

The agency noted that countries with non-discrimination laws against men who have sex with men, injecting drug users and sex workers have provided better access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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