Caribbean Should Decriminalize Homosexuality to Help Fight Spread of HIV, Lewis Says
February 24, 2009
The Caribbean will not make significant gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS if governments in the region do not act to decriminalize homosexuality, Stephen Lewis, director of AIDS-Free World, said recently while visiting the region, the Caribbean Media Corporation reports. According to Lewis, the MSM community, "often disparaged, abused and certainly discriminated against, in order to seize legitimacy has sex with women," thus spreading the virus further into the general population. Lewis, the former United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, said that it is a "profound error in judgment not to understand that if you are going to deal with the pandemic and subdue it, you have to deal with" MSM and decriminalize homosexuality. Lewis said that current laws in the region "give legitimacy and authenticity to the stigma and discrimination which so harasses the gay community." Legislation aimed at ending discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS will be ineffective if homosexuality continues to be illegal, he said (Caribbean Media Corporation, 2/23).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.