Responding to the statement by the Russian government that it intends to extend the so-called “LGBTQ propaganda” law, UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima has joined with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in expressing deep concern.
“Extension of this law,” said Byanyima, “is a further violation of the rights of people to autonomy, dignity and equality. Not only will it harm the security and general wellbeing of LGBTQ individuals, it will have a serious negative impact on people’s health outcomes. The evidence is clear that punitive and restrictive laws, including those restricting free speech, increase the risk of acquiring HIV and decrease access to services. Such laws reduce the ability of service providers, including peer networks, to provide critical sexual and reproductive health information and services, and increase stigma related to sexual orientation, making it harder for people to protect their health and that of their communities.”
Byanyima added that this will also undermine Russia’s efforts to end AIDS by 2030.
In the end, “stigmatizing approaches damage public health, perpetuate pandemics and hurt everyone. Social solidarity, inclusion and protecting every person’s human rights are key to ending AIDS and ensuring health for all,” Byanyima ended.