Anger at homophobic laws flares at AIDS conference

Nobel laureate Francoise Barre-Sinoussi from France (L) speaks alongside co-chair Sharon Lewin of Australia during the opening ceremony of the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne on July 20, 2014Campaigners at the world AIDS conference are taking aim at countries with anti-gay laws, accusing them of creating conditions that allow the spread of HIV. Powerfully mixing concerns over human rights and health, the issue threatens to divide western donor countries where gay equality is making strides from poor beneficiary nations where anti-gay laws persist or have been newly passed, say some. "We need again to shout out loud that we will not stand idly by when governments, in violation of all human rights principles, are enforcing monstrous laws that only marginalise populations that are already the most vulnerable in society." Experts point to bitterly-won experience in the war on AIDS, which has claimed 39 million lives in 33 years: HIV spreads stealthily from stigmatised minorities and into the mainstream population, where it then can spread like wildfire. The 12,000 delegates attending the 20th International AIDS Conference are being urged to sign a "Melbourne Declaration" which insists that all gay, lesbian and transgender people "are entitled to equal rights and to equal access to HIV prevention, care and treatment information and services".



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