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UNAIDS chief Winnie Byanyima denounces anti-LGBTQ+ laws

UNAIDS chief Winnie Byanyima denounces anti-LGBTQ+ laws

UNAIDS head Byanyima says anti-LGBTQ+ laws impede the fight against HIV

UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima says that to protect LGBTQ+ people’s health, we must protect LGBTQ+ people’s rights. (Courtesy UNAIDS/Youtube)
UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima says that to protect LGBTQ+ people’s health, we must protect LGBTQ+ people’s rights. (Courtesy UNAIDS/Youtube)

As LGBTQ+ communities and allies prepare to take to the streets to mark this year’s Price month (June), UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima has once again spoken out against the criminalization, discrimination and stigmatization of LGBTQ+ people, insisting on respect for all.

UNAIDS is calling on governments everywhere to protect the human rights of LGBTQ+ people.

“PRIDE has brought the world a long way in the struggle to protect the human rights of LGBTQ+ people. So much has been won. But the progress that has been made is under threat. The world needs the spirit of PRIDE more than ever today: to protect everyone’s health, we need to protect everyone’s rights” Byanyima stated in a UNAIDS press release.

Despite coming from Uganda, a country that a year ago enacted the harsh Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) 2023, Byanyima has been and remains an LGBTQ+ ally and a strong advocate of human rights for all.

When president Museveni assented to the AHA, Byanyima issued a joint statement with the heads of the Global Fund and PEPFAR condemning the move and calling for its repeal.

According to Byanyima, there is still much to celebrate this Pride season. UNAIDS data shows that 123 countries do not penalize same-sex relations. This represents the highest number of countries rejecting criminalization ever.

More and more countries have been scrapping the harmful punitive anti-LGBTQ+ laws which are often leftovers of colonial rule. Since 2019, Botswana, Gabon, Angola, Bhutan, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Singapore, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Cook Islands, Mauritius and Dominica have all repealed laws that had criminalized LGBTQ+ people.

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However, the human rights of the LGBTQ+ community are threatened by a globally coordinated and well-funded extremist anti-rights network who are spending millions on promoting hate and social division and are proposing ever more draconian laws to punish LGBTQ+ people.

The living example is in Uganda where attacks on LGBTQ+ people in the name of the AHA have not only skyrocketed but also worsened. LGBTQI+ people and their allies are living in constant fear because their own president signed a bill that makes them outlaws.

In a short video uploaded on YouTube, Byanyima equates AIDS stigma to harsh anti-gay laws, saying that they are both killers. Her message to government everywhere is loud and clear: Protect the human rights of LGBTQ+ people.

“UNAIDS stands with LGBTQ+ people everywhere who are facing hate, discrimination and marginalization and calls for an end to their criminalization” she said. “Today we are at a hinge moment: the end of AIDS as a public health threat is realizable in this decade, but progress is imperiled by the pushback on human rights.”

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