UNAIDS urges action to change discriminatory laws in order to restore dignity and respect and save lives

On Zero Discrimination Day, UNAIDS calls on countries to examine discriminatory provisions in their laws and policies and make positive changes to ensure equality, inclusion and protection.

“Human rights violations are happening all over the world because of discriminatory laws and practices,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Laws must protect, not cause harm. All countries must carefully examine their laws and policies in order to ensure equality and protection for all people, without exception.”

On Zero Discrimination Day, UNAIDS recalls the equal dignity and worth of every person, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is calling for action to change discriminatory laws and practices, which are a significant barrier for access to health and other services.

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Message by UNAIDS Executive Director
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On 1 March, Zero Discrimination Day, we celebrate the advocacy and activism that brings the world closer to zero discrimination and the actions and laws that help to ensure that people can live with dignity.

My call this year is focused on changing discriminatory laws and practices that block people from accessing health and other life-saving services.

Read the full message from the UNAIDS Executive Director on Zero Discrimination Day

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Act to change laws that discriminate

On Zero Discrimination Day this year, UNAIDS is highlighting the urgent need to take action against discriminatory laws.

In many countries, laws result in people being treated differently, excluded from essential services or being subject to undue restrictions on how they live their lives, simply because of who they are. Such laws are discriminatory—they deny human rights and fundamental freedoms. 

States have a moral and legal obligation—under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights treaties, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international obligations—to remove discriminatory laws and to enact laws that protect people from discrimination.

Ending discrimination and changing laws is the responsibility of us all. Everyone can play a part in ending discrimination and can try to make a difference, in ways both big and small. The Zero Discrimination Day 2019 campaign challenges people to act against laws that discriminate in their country. 

Download the campaign brochure to find out more and learn what individuals, civil society and governments can do to change laws that discriminate.

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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead, 1901–1978, anthropologist

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