UNAIDS welcomes historic decision by Delhi High Court to annul the law that criminalizes adult homosexual relations

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Press statement

UNAIDS welcomes historic decision by Delhi High Court to annul the law that criminalizes adult homosexual relations


New Delhi, 2 July 2009—The Delhi High Court in India today annulled a 150-year-old law criminalizing “carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” commonly known as Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The court declared that section 377 of Indian Penal Code violted Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution and said consensual sexual acts of adults in private should not be criminalized. A division bench of Chief Justice A.P Shah and Justice S. Murlidhar said, “The inclusiveness that Indian society traditionally displayed, literally in every aspect of life, is manifest in recognizing a role in society for everyone.”

“The Delhi High Court has restored the dignity and human rights of millions of men who have sex with men and transgendered people in India,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Mr Michel Sidibé. “Oppressive laws such as Section 377, drive people underground making it much harder to reach them with HIV prevention, treatment and care services.”

UNAIDS urges all governments to ensure full respect for the human rights of men who have sex with men, lesbians and transgendered people through repealing laws that prohibit sexual acts between consenting adults in private; enforcing laws to protect these groups from violence and discrimination; promoting campaigns that address homophobia and transphobia, and ensuring that the crucial health services are met.

“UNAIDS strongly welcomes the decision to repeal the law and looks forward to working with the Indian government on moving the AIDS response forward for men who have sex with men and transgendered people,” said Mr Sidibé. “It sends a positive message to countries, where such laws still exist.”

The criminalization of adult sexual behaviour is hampering HIV responses across the world. Such measures have a negative impact on delivery of HIV prevention programmes and access to treatment by people living with HIV. Not only do they violate human rights of individuals, but further stigmatize these populations. Currently, more than 80 countries in the world have legislation that prohibits same sex behaviour.

In the 2006 United Nations Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, governments committed to removing legal barriers and passing laws to protect vulnerable populations. Countries that have non-discrimination laws against men who have sex with men, injecting drug users and sex workers have provided better access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.


Press centre

Press centre:

Download printable version (pdf, 26.4 Kb.)

Read High-Court Judgment (pdf, 431 Kb)

AIDS responses failing men who have sex with men and transgender populations (15 May 2009)

Statement by Mr Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, on occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, 17 May, (15 May 2009)

UNAIDS expresses concern over decision by Burundian National Assembly to criminalize same sex relations (27 Apr 2009)

UNAIDS welcomes the release of nine men in Senegal imprisoned for their sexual orientation (20 Apr 2009))

UNAIDS and broad coalition working towards the release of nine men who have sex with men in Senegal who have been convicted and imprisoned (15 January 2009)

Criminalization of sexual behavior and transmission of HIV hampering AIDS responses (27 November 2008)


Multimedia:

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%Feature stories:

International Day against Homophobia (15 May 2009)

Hidden HIV epidemic amongst MSM in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (26 January 2009)

China to tackle HIV indidence amongst MSM (16 January 2009)

HIV prevention hampered by homophobia (13 January 2009)

ICASA 2008: Men who have sex with men and HIV in Africa (07 December 2008)


Contact:

UNAIDS: Sophie Barton-Knott
Tel. +41 22 791 1697
E-mail: bartonknotts@unaids.org

Dr. Charles Gilks
Tel. +91 98 103 30306
E-mail: gilksc@unaids.org

Nalin Mehta
Tel. +91 9711291990
E-mail: mehtan@unaids.org


Publications:

UNAIDS Action Framework on Universal Access for Men who have Sex with Men and Transgender People (pdf, 274 Kb.)

Joint action for results: UNAIDS outcome framework, 2009 – 2011