Friday, May 21, 2010

UNAIDS shows concern on a Malawi court decision

May 20, Geneva, Switzerland - The UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) shows concern on the recent decision of the magistrate court in Malawi against a gay couple namely Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga. The couple was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment and hard labor.

The couple was arrested last December 2009, with criminal charges on grounds of "indecent practices between males" and "unnatural offenses." Monjeza and Chimbalanga were already detained for five months before the court gave its decision. Homosexual relationship in some countries in Africa is considered a criminal case.

UNAIDS opposes the idea of criminalizing of individuals because of the sexual orientation (same sex relationship) which is against the rights of a person and a setback for human rights that threatens public health gains in the AIDS response. The organizations sees it as a hindrance their campaign where instead of proper implementation of HIV/AIDS related projects properly they will be having hard time to communicate with this people who goes underground in regards of same sex relationship.

Aside from the 52 countries that implements travel restriction to people with AIDS that is one of the issues that UNAIDS is working, they are also calling upon more than 80 countries that have legislations prohibiting same-sex behavior. The organization urges all governments and world leaders to ensure full respect to all human rights even with their sexual orientation.

The case of same sex relationship prohibition in Malawi and other countries which UNAIDS is opposing is a threat to the United Nation Millennium Developmental Goal # 6 which is Combat HIV/AIDS and in my personal opinion it also hampers the MDG # 3 which is Gender Equality where it suppresses the rights of individuals because of their sexual orientation.

In the Philippines, there is no legislation that prohibits same sex relationship but still some of those who engaged with it face discrimination but the most important is the concern of HIV/AIDS that is connected with it. The number of reported cases of people with AIDS increases and the only thing that the government see a solution is the distribution of condom to couples and individuals. It was done by the controversial Department of Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral. She started the campaign last February 14, Valentine's Day, she distributes condoms along with proper information drive on how to prevent the spread of AIDS in the country especially among the youth who became experimental with their lives. Unlike in Malawi the government didn't oppose this campaign but the Catholic Church. They see it as a promotion of pre-marital sex and infidelity among the youth and couples. But clearly in my opinion, condom promotes safety from the spread of virus, including maternal health care to avoid early pregnancy among womens who are not prepared, and sometimes with health reasons it can cause their lives.

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