Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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Securing the right to love: repealing the law against homosexuality


Aids Alliance

To coincide with the Commonwealth Law Ministers meeting in Sydney, Australia (11-14 July 2011) the film Securing the Right to Love describes the impact that punitive laws have on sexual minorities, which in turn affects our ability to reach these populations with HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

The film takes you on a journey with those directly involved in lobbying for the repeal of Section 377 and the lawmakers who made the final decision. It explores why it was necessary, what was done and provides great insights into how it is possible to change the status quo and the positive effects it has had in India.

The film has been made as part of an ongoing project with the Alliance, the Commonwealth HIV & AIDS Action Group (CHAAG) and the Commonwealth Foundation and Secretariat to promote to understanding among Commonwealth countries of the effect that punitive laws, criminalisation and stigma and discrimination have on marginalised groups and the ability to reach people with HIV services.

Sixty per cent of the 40 million worldwide living with HIV and AIDS reside in Commonwealth countries. Many of these people are from the most vulnerable and marginalised populations – women, people who use drugs, men who have sex with men and sex workers.

The Alliance working with the India HIV/AIDS Alliance produced the film to showcase the groundbreaking decision to overturn Section 377, the law penalising homosexuality as a way of highlighting what is possible to achieve, despite the odds.

“India is an important example of what it is possible for other Commonwealth countries to do. Currently 41 of the 53 Commonwealth countries penalise homosexuality. This is having a profoundly negative impact on our being able to reach men who have sex with men (MSM) with HIV services, “said Anton Kerr, Chair of CHAAG and Head of Policy at the Alliance. “Given this is a group at extremely high risk of HIV and we have plenty of evidence that supports what works this is an unforgiveable situation.”

Laws should promote gender equality and protect human rights. People living with HIV and those most at risk populations are better able to access HIV services and participate in prevention, treatment, care and support without fear of arrest or prosecution. Protecting public health and promoting human rights are mutually reinforcing strategies.

The Alliance will be working with other members of CHAAG to send a delegation to the Commonwealth Law Ministers meeting to raise our concerns and expectation of Commonwealth Law Ministers to play a greater role in reforming laws that undermine the human rights of sexual minorities and other people vulnerable to HIV across the Commonwealth.

Read the Alliance briefing document - HIV and the law: Commonwealth Law Ministers must tackle legal obstacles that undermine effective HIV responses.