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Eurasian Coalition on Male Health condemns the adoption of any laws that violate human rights, criminalize same-sex relations and contribute to the HIV epidemic

in WORLD, 07/12/2012

The HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men (MSM) continues to rapidly grow in the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA). One of the main reasons for this is the adoption of homophobic laws, so-called "laws prohibiting homosexual propaganda."

Laws banning "honosexual propaganda" are being spread almost everywhere in the EECA countries as rapidly as HIV epidemic itself, promoting human rights violations, stigma and discrimination against homosexuals and, as a result, only one in ten MSM has access to health services.

Official data on HIV prevalence among MSM does not reflect the true extent of the epidemic. Studies conducted in the EECA region show a significant difference between official governmental reports and research conducted by at the community level.

Adoption of such laws has serious consequences and jeopardizes progress in the field of HIV and human rights in general. Fear of persecution based on sexual orientation makes people invisible, increases the risk of HIV infection and impedes their access to vital information and health services.

In places where "homosexual propaganda" is banned, MSM do not seek medical care and treatment, as this may lead to persecution, denial of services, detention, blackmail or violence.

This means that people will continue to die. More often. Faster. In pain.

The Eurasian Coalition on Male Health condemns the adoption of any laws that violate human rights, criminalize same-sex relations and contribute to the HIV epidemic. Zero new cases of HIV infections, zero new cases of AIDS-related deaths and zero new cases of discrimination can only be achieved if there is adequate legislation and equal state support for all groups with freedom from discrimination, intimidation, violence, and criminal prosecution. This freedom should be extended to all homosexuals in the ECCA region, and around the world.

ECOM urges the governments of the EECA region:

* To assess the real harm from laws "prohibiting homosexual propaganda" on the HIV epidemic and stop their adoption, and to repeal such laws where they have been enacted;

* To include statements in existing legislation on prohibition of discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation;

* To recognize the vulnerability of MSM to HIV and take responsibility for including MSM in national HIV/AIDS prevention programs and ensure financial support;

* To take appropriate measures to expand free access for MSM to health services.

The ECOM Board.

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