Discriminatory laws cause rise in violence and HIV

Discriminatory laws cause rise in violence and HIV

Since the most far-reaching anti-LBGTIQ+ law was introduced in Uganda, violence against people in the LGBTIQ+ community – and against people providing HIV services – has been 6 times as much as in the same period last year. In the past year, a significant number of countries have introduced anti-gay legislation or made their laws more restrictive. This discriminatory legislation has disastrous consequences for the HIV response, says Aidsfonds in its report published on the eve of World AIDS Day on 1 December. A study conducted in Africa shows that in countries where people are punished because of their sexual orientation, HIV is 12 times more prevalent among men who have sex with men.

Mark Vermeulen, Aidsfonds Executive Director:  “No one should die of AIDS any more, yet someone in the world dies of AIDS every minute. Completely unnecessarily, because for over 25 years now there has been life-saving treatment. Discrimination and legislation that bans and criminalises someone’s sexual identity are the main reasons why the HIV epidemic is growing again in an increasing number of countries rather than declining. As long as politicians choose to exclude people from healthcare, ending AIDS in the whole world is impossible.” 

HIV response in Uganda now under threat

The new law introduced in May in Uganda bans “promoting homosexuality”. This includes any information given about HIV, and doing so will be punished by 20 years’ imprisonment. Aidsfonds partners there have been threatened – some even arrested – since the law came into effect. A clinic providing HIV care has already had to close down.
There is another disturbing development caused by the Ugandan law. Fewer and fewer people are getting themselves tested for HIV. They are scared of getting punished because of their sexual orientation. Before the law was passed, 40 people went to HIV testing centres in Kampala each week to get tested, but that number has now dropped to no more than 2. This immediately puts the HIV response under threat.  

People at risk of HIV increasingly face violence too. Between May and August of this year, 180 people were evicted from their homes because of their sexual orientation, and there were 18 reports of police officers forcing people they had arrested to have anal examinations – done to find evidence of their homosexuality.


Discriminatory legislation in more countries

Uganda is the latest addition to the group of countries with far-reaching discriminatory laws. Countries like Indonesia and Russia have had legislation like this for some time, and have now made their laws even more restrictive.  

The number of HIV infections among men who have sex with men in Indonesia has doubled since 2010. And the number of AIDS-related deaths has risen by 68% in the same period.
Russia has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world. As time has gone on, HIV has spread further and further. There are now 49% more HIV infections – among both men and women – compared to 2010.


HIV worldwide

There are 37.9 million people living with HIV worldwide. In 2022, 1.3 million people were newly infected with HIV, in an increasing number of regions in the world. But 9 million people still have no access to life-saving treatment. There were 630,000 AIDS-related deaths last year. These numbers are much higher than the global targets agreed at the UN. An increasing number of countries are failing to make the right political choices, according to Aidsfonds. 

Further information:
Aidsfonds Press Office
Hilde Brontsema


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