HUMAN RIGHTS AND HIV/AIDS
Ayu Oktariani, Public Campaign Officer, Indonesia AIDS Coalition, pressed for the full recognition of human rights in AIDS programmes and policies. The lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender community was still living in fear, and the criminalisation of drug users needed to be eliminated.
Dainius Puras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, underlined the role of healthcare settings given their position as spaces where key populations could access the services and information they needed. All over the world people faced various forms of discrimination in relation to health care, linked to race, gender, socio-economic status or sexual orientation, among others.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers underlined the importance of combatting HIV/AIDS through a multi-sectorial and human-rights based approach, tackling discrimination and stigmatization of the most vulnerable communities, including women, girls, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, as well as drug users and prison inmates. A number of speakers said the 2011 Political Declaration remained the internationally agreed framework for HIV/AIDS as it reaffirmed the sovereign rights of Member States and the need for all countries to implement the commitment and pledges consistent with national laws.
Luiz Loures, Deputy Executive Director, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said that, the AIDS paradox was more global than ever. Geography was less important now. What defined it was who you were, what were your options, where you lived, your gender, and your sexual orientation. If you were gay, a prisoner, or a sex worker, you were more affected.
Kuwait, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS reaffirmed the obligations of States to fulfill their obligations and rights in this respect, and the important role of the family and cultural and moral aspects of the fight against HIV/AIDS. This Declaration had international consensus.
European Union said adopting a human rights based approach to HIV/AIDS was vital. Such an approach encompassed fulfilling everyone’s right without discrimination, ensuring free testing and access to antiretroviral medicines, promoting gender equality and empowerment of children, and access to sexual and reproductive rights.
Portugal hoped that the Human Rights Council would send a key message to the forthcoming meeting of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on HIV/AIDS meeting in New York, underlining the key aspect of human rights to the fight against HIV/AIDS. The aim was to eliminate all forms of discrimination, stigma and violence associated with the disease.
Egypt said the 2011 Political Declaration remained the internationally agreed framework on addressing the subject matter. Abusing efforts to eradicate HIV/AIDS to promote “controversial social norms” such as sexual orientation and decriminalisation of drug abuse could weaken the global partnership to accomplish its common objective.
Estonia said that the situation of vulnerable groups, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, had worsened in Russian-occupied Ukraine, especially in Crimea, leading to restricted access to HIV treatment and sexual and reproductive rights.
Iran said that its national response had reduced stigma and discrimination, and had demonstrated that a community-based approach could attract national and international resources to facilitate the achievement of prevention, treatment, care and support objectives.
Uruguay said the importance of working together to find effective responses was crucial. Discrimination had to be dealt with, and women, children, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual persons had to be prioritised.
Nnana Oye Lithur, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection of Ghana, quoting from the African Human Rights Commission, said that most vulnerable groups were denied the protection they required. Due to the Government of Ghana’s consistency in placing human rights at the centre of the HIV/AIDS response, there was a positive response. This was a message for Africa, as it was most affected by HIV. What defined the disease was gender inequality, stigma, discrimination, and sexual orientation. The African region had to address these issues by tackling gender, population and other key issues when there were traditional dimensions. The imperative was saving human lives.
International HIV/AIDS Alliance , on behalf of several NGOs, said that 52 HIV and human rights organizations supported the statement he was making, calling on States to adopt four commitments which included eliminating legislation that criminalised people living with or affected by HIV.
HUMAN RIGHTS MAINSTREAMING
Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said that throughout his time in office, he had spoken up repeatedly for the rights of all people, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, disability, caste or other distinction. In many countries, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex people were subjected to brutal and sometimes deadly violence. He noted, commending the Council for adopting two historic resolutions on sexual orientation and gender identity, and urging it to maintain its stance on this issue.
THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE TWO HUMAN RIGHTS COVENANTS
Catarina de Albuquerque, Executive Chair of the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership, referred to challenges to the universality, interrelatedness and interdependence of human rights. The first challenge was a lack of legal protection leading to impunity for the violation of certain rights. The fact that certain rights were not justiciable led to a de facto hierarchy between rights. The second challenge was the unequal wealth distribution, leading to human rights violations affecting primarily the most vulnerable people. The third challenge was existing stigma and taboos regarding discrimination affecting persons from sexual minorities, persons with disabilities, or persons belonging to other minorities. The fourth challenge was that misconception that some rights were more important than others, or took longer to implement than others. The last challenge was procedural. The existence of two Covenants and two treaty bodies led to the fragmentation of rights. One way to strengthen the treaty system was to work on the unification of the Committees.
Finland, also speaking on behalf of Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, said the Covenants continued to carry the important message and obligations of human rights for all regardless of origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, and underlined the importance of civil society collaboration with the treaty bodies, without intimidation or reprisal.
 International Lesbian and Gay Association; International Council of AIDS Service Organizations; Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network; Global Network of People Living with HIV; International Planned Parenthood Federation; International AIDS Society; Grandmothers Advocacy Network; and Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries.
For further information on HRC31:
Arvind Narrain | Geneva Director | email@example.com
Kim Vance | Executive Director | firstname.lastname@example.org
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