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The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association says 13 U.S. states still have not repealed their anti-sodomy laws.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

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid