HIV crisis worsened by anti-gay laws in Commonwealth countries, report warns

The persecution of millions of people in Commonwealth countries where homosexuality is a criminal offence is worsening the AIDS crisis, warns a major report produced for David Cameron. In what the report describes as a “British colonial legacy”, 40 out of 53 Commonwealth countries criminalise same-sex relationships. The Prime Minister should demand that the countries scrap anti-gay laws and end the persecution and punishment of millions of people. The briefing was prepared ahead of the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Malta next weekend. 

Not only are rates of HIV infection higher, but the proportion of people helped by health workers is lower, it says. The prevention of HIV among gay men in countries where homosexuality is illegal is “difficult to address due to ‘double stigmatisation’ ”. Lower awareness of HIV prevention leads to men “engaging in riskier sexual behaviours”, and health providers are less willing to offer their services because of fears they could be accused of abetting criminal activity, says the report. 

Jonathan Cooper, the chief executive of the Human Dignity Trust, said: “You will never ever get the Aids crisis under control while gay men are criminalised. It’s literally not possible while gay men are shamed and stigmatised.” 

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