Track D
Session summary
MOSS02, No One Left Behind: Stepping up the Pace on the Removal of Punitive Laws to Advance Human Rights and Gender Equality

This session focused on the recognition that removing punitive laws is critical for protecting human rights and for an effective HIV response.

 In the presentation The Global Commission on HIV and the Law: generating momentum for protective law and law enforcement in the context of HIV , how to ensure universal health care alongside safeguarding intellectual property as enshrined in international human rights law was discussed.Even with differential pricing, pharmaceutical companies make inordinate profits from some drugs e.g. Hepatitis C treatment $80 to make, $600 to buy in India, $84,000 in the US. The UN should undertake this reconciliation – it’s a matter of life and death.

The paper on The need for parliamentary champions to protect the human rights of key populations discussed that, especially where issues are marginalized or unpopular, there is rarely majoritarian demand for legal reform so sensitization of lawmakers is critical to engage leaders who are willing to expend political capital on these issues. UNDP is supporting work with Parliamentarians. Champions within government, Parliament, the UN and civil society are needed.

In Nigeria and Uganda the archaic anti-homosexuality laws have recently been made harsher, as described in the presentation Working to overturn laws criminalizing people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Foreign aid should not be tied to LGBT laws and policies. There is a need for additional research on the impact of anti-LGBT laws and discrimination on HIV, greater support to grassroots groups trying to support key populations and coalition-building.

 The Challenging punitive laws in the context of criminalization of sex work and gender identity: experiences and current struggles described how transgender was declared the third gender by the Supreme Court in India in April 2014 but other laws can be used to prevent people changing their gender. National AIDS Control Programme wants to increase service uptake among key populations but the context is punitive laws, violence, discrimination etc. As homophobia and transphobia are increasing, health and wellbeing are deteriorating.

The role of the law  were the focus of two last presentations: in advancing gender equality laws are not always coherent – gender equality laws can exist alongside laws informed by culture or religion that work against gender equality. Some laws designed to protect women have had an opposite effect e.g. criminalization of transmission, rape in the context of HIV. In South Africa, WLHIV who report rape and disclose their HIV status can be asked if they disclosed their status to their rapist.  In advancing a public health approach to drug use and HIV, the authors discuss that fear of arrest drives people away from harm reduction and HIV services. Detainment exposes people to unsafe sex and injecting practices. 96% treatment gap within the drug using community. Human rights law and drug control law exist in parallel universes.

The open debate raised important questions and recommendations: