UNDP Welcomes Delhi HC’s Decision to Repeal Section 377

02 Jul 2009

UNDP welcomes Delhi High Court’s decision to repeal Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a provision which criminalized consensual adult, private sex between persons of the same sex.

Today, India has taken an important step in strengthening its HIV response, and in promoting human rights for all with the Delhi High Court’s decision to repeal Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code – a provision which criminalized consensual adult, private sex between persons of the same sex.Laws which criminalize consensual adult, private sexual conduct by persons of the same sexhave proved to be a significant barrier to achieving universal access to HIV prevention,treatment, care and support and the Millennium Development Goals. Evidence from the lasttwenty five years shows that where men who have sex with men and transgender people are marginalized or criminalized, many fear to take up HIV, health and other services. This isbecause they may face discrimination, and in some places, violence or criminal prosecution. Therefore, the decriminalization of consensual sex between adults of the same sex is imperative for an effective AIDS response and generating broader health and developmentbenefits.

In India, HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men and transgender people continues to be much higher than in the general population. India’s National AIDS Control Organization recognizes the need to scale up HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for men who have sex with men and transgender people. Commenting on today’s decision by the Delhi High Court, Jeffrey O’Malley, Director of UNDP’s HIV Division in New York, said: “UNDP welcomes this landmark judgment of the Delhi High Court.Inappropriate criminalization is a major impediment to achieving universal access to HIV prevention, care and treatment. This judgment emphasizes the importance of improving the human rights situation for men who have sex with men and transgender people across the globe. We hope that other countries will follow suit.” At the end of 2008, 86 UN Member States still criminalized same sex acts among adults.

Notes:

UNDP works to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and reduce its impact. As a trusted development partner, and co-sponsor of UNAIDS, it helps countries put HIV/AIDS at the centre of national development and poverty reduction strategies; build national capacity to mobilize all levels of government and civil society for a coordinated and effective response to the epidemic; and protect the rights of people living with AIDS, women, and vulnerable populations. United Nations Development Programme Within the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), UNDP is lead Cosponsor focusing on expanding and strengthening policies and programmes for men who have sex with men, transgender people and HIV.

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