by Joel Gustave Nana
The NGO delegation would like to thank Michel for his leadership role in ensuring equitable access to services and the protection from discrimination. We specifically appreciate the space created by the field visit that allowed for the First lady of Zambia to call for the protection of gay men other MSM and other key populations from discrimination, as well as the recent development to ensure accountability of UCC in response to the ever-growing crises around these issues. We also acknowledge and thank Michel for the statement on the decision of the Indian Supreme court on the criminalization of adult consensual same-sex practices,
The delegation, would like to join Michel in calling for the review of all laws and policies that continue to impede onthe response to HIV, and specifically call for increased protection of the rights of women and girls, and the rights of key populations, namely sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people and people who use drugs and PLHIV, to access equitable access to quality services. In this regards, the delegation urges the Indian government to develop and implement a robust strategy to address the recent ruling and to maintain the legally enabling environment that for equitable access to services by gay men, other men who have sex with men and transgender people that was secured in 2009.
The delegation would like to reemphasize the need to review country laws, policies and practices that limit access to services to meet the recommendations in the report of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law.The violent impacts of punitive and discriminatory laws such as Russia’s ‘anti-propaganda’ law is one of such pieces of laws we would like to draw attention on.This law contributes to both limiting access to services by MSM and preventing service delivery to- and advocacy on behalf of – gay men, other men who have sex with men and transgender people. The impact of such a trend goes beyond the borders of Russia to impact on countries in the neighborhood and beyond.
These developments are not limited to India and Russia, a worrying number of other countries in all regions have been moving in this direction in practice, policy or law. The delegation reassures Michel of its support in his endeavor for access to the highest attainable standard of health for all and calls on states for increased commitment, and support to achieving zero discrimination.