Report: HIV Crisis Worsened by Anti-Gay Laws in Commonwealth Countries

FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 file photo, Kenyan gays and lesbians and others supporting their cause wear masks to preserve their anonymity and one holds out a condom, as they stage a rare protest, against Uganda's increasingly tough stance against homosexuality and in solidarity with their counterparts there, outside the Uganda High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni met in his office with a team of U.S.-based rights activists concerned about legislation that would impose life sentences for some homosexual acts and made clear he had no plans to sign the bill, according to Santiago Canton of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights who attended the Jan. 18, 2014 meeting, but one month later Museveni appears to have changed his mind, saying through a spokesman in February 2014 that he would sign the bill "to protect Ugandans from social deviants." (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)
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The persecution of millions of people in Commonwealth countries where homosexuality is a illegal is worsening the HIV crisis according a new report.

The report commissioned for UK Prime Minister David Cameron describes the anti- gay laws as a British colonial legacy. Forty out of fifty three Commonwealth countries criminalise same-sex relationships.

The Commonwealth accounts for over 60 per cent of HIV cases worldwide even though it only covers 30 per cent of the worldǯs population because criminalisation worsens HIV pandemics and undermines efforts to tackle HIV, the report states. Not only are rates of HIV infection higher, but the proportion of people helped by health workers is lower, the report says.

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The prevention of HIV among gay men in countries where homosexuality is illegal is “difficult to address due to double stigmatisation.”

In Pakistan and parts of Nigeria, those caught in same- sex relationships can be put to death. In Barbados, Guyana, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia, gay citizens can face life imprisonment. More than 20 twenty other Commonwealth countries have penalties of 10 years or more in prison.

 

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