World AIDS Day 2012: Reflections on the Impact of HIV/AIDS on LGBT Communities in Africa, Asia and the Middle East

A Statement from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

"Let's promise to learn more about AIDS and let's keep our promises.”Poster produced by UNAIDS and UNICEF, in Persian.

Grace Poore, Program Coordinator for Asia and Pacific Islands

The 2012 World AIDS Day theme of zero discrimination cannot be achieved when the first-ever declaration of human rights in Asia consciously and deliberately denies human rights protections for LGBT people, when political leaders publicly vilify and spread prejudice against gay people, when LGBT people are accused of spreading AIDS, when murders of lesbians are ignored, when laws are used to target LGBT people. There is no such thing as one kind of discrimination. Zero discrimination has to mean ending multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, and embracing human rights protections for ALL marginalized and vulnerable people.

Damian Ugwu, Program Coordinator for Africa

Criminalization of same-sex relationships in Africa as well as widespread discrimination and stigmatization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people often fuels HIV infections among our communities. African governments must come to terms with the fact that no meaningful progress can be made in the fight against the HIV and AIDS pandemic in Africa without the decriminalization of homosexuality and protection of LGBT human rights.

Hossein Alizadeh, Program Coordinator for Middle East and North Africa

Over three decades after the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic, in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa "morality" and religious dogmas continue to blur public understanding of this disease. HIV/AIDS is often viewed as a divine punishment for sexually promiscuous individuals. This stereotyping forces members of at-risk communities to avoid discussion of the issue, which in turn keeps members of society in the dark and increases the danger for individuals to unknowingly be exposed to the virus. In some cases authorities manipulate the data and suggest that there is no HIV in their society. It is time for all societies to put aside prejudice and denial, and start an open and free discussion around prevention and treatment strategies.