News / USA

US Ambassador Calls for LGBT Rights

UNAIDS and others say the LGBT community is at greater risk of HIV infection due to criminalization, stigma and discrimination
UNAIDS and others say the LGBT community is at greater risk of HIV infection due to criminalization, stigma and discrimination

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

The U.S. ambassador to Australia said it should not be a crime to be a member of the LGBT community. Ambassador John Berry told the 20th international AIDS Conference that the fight against the disease cannot be won by relegating segments of the population to the shadows.

Listen to De Capua report on US ambassador and HIV
Listen to De Capua report on US ambassador and HIVi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Ambassador Berry said the world has reached a critical moment in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

“We are now on the brink of an AIDS-free generation. But reaching that goal will depend on all of us working together and being able to get the preventative care and treatment that everyone needs.”

However, he said there are many barriers around the world blocking access to prevention, care and treatment.

“Unfortunately, the criminalization of certain at risk populations and those who are HIV positive – and the stigma associated with HIV – are the very things that will prevent us from eliminating this disease entirely,” he said.

The U.S. Ambassador said that criminalization is bad health policy and bad public policy. He says it does not stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and, in fact, does just the opposite.

“Criminalization laws undermine public health approaches that we need to fight this disease and limit its spread. These laws don’t reflect current scientific knowledge. They undermine our ability to get people into screening and treatment. And more fundamentally, these laws wrongly stigmatize and marginalize those living with HIV and AIDS.”

More than 80 countries around the world have criminal laws against sexual activity by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Some of those laws contain very harsh penalties.

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association says 13 U.S. states still have not repealed their anti-sodomy laws. That’s despite a 2003 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court declaring such laws unconstitutional.

The Center for HIV Law and Policy says 32 states and two U.S. territories “have HIV-specific criminal statutes and thirty-six states have reported proceedings in which HIV-positive people have been arrested and/or prosecuted for consensual sex, biting, and spitting.” The center says there have been at least 80 such prosecutions in the last two years alone.

Ambassador Berry said the U.S. still has more to do in this regard.

“Now while the United States still has laws that criminalize HIV status, we are working to become better – to do better – and to remedy our mistakes. We believe that one of the most productive public policy actions that we can take is removing outdated criminalization laws from the books. The president in his national HIV/AIDS strategy has called for the review and reform of all HIV criminalization laws across our country,” he said.

Ambassador Berry called that a good step, but added more needs to be done at home and abroad. He noted that new HIV infections are on the rise in the United States and the AIDS conference host country Australia, particularly among young men.

He said, “Those of us who remember the funerals of the 80s and 90s have no wish to repeat that era. It falls to us to ensure that the next generation does not repeat these mistakes.”

He said that means educating young people about HIV prevention and transmission, supporting research, lifting travel restrictions on those living with HIV and supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Berry also praised PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, for helping to get 6.7-million people on treatment. 

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid