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Tuesday 28 March 2017


Kirby attacks "sexual apartheid" in Commonwealth

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By GayNZ.com Daily News staff - 26th October 2011

michael_kirby.jpg
Michael Kirby
New Zealand AIDS Foundation Vice Patron Michael Kirby has made a powerful stand against homophobia in Commonwealth nations ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

The openly-gay Australian former judge has given an address in Perth in the official lead-up to the event saying persecuting gay people is to blame for HIV rates twice as high in Commonwealth nations as in the rest of the world.

He said Commonwealth nations faced an "existential threat" from the virus.

"There are some people who think AIDS is over, that AIDS is no longer a challenge, that AIDS is not a big deal," Kirby said.

"That is wrong.

"Approximately 2.6 million people every year become infected with HIV.

"There is no present cure for AIDS. There is no vaccine for AIDS. The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Commonwealth countries is double that of non-Commonwealth countries. This is a very specific Commonwealth problem."

Homosexuality is outlawed or surrounded by murky rules in 41 of 54 Commonwealth nations.

"The countries which have been most successful at prevention are those which have reached out to the groups that are most at risk of HIV infection," Kirby said.

"If you don't reach out to those groups, if you stigmatise them, if you criminalise them, they will not come forward, they will not take the HIV test, they will not protect themselves and they will not protect their communities."

Mr Kirby said criminalising gay people was "sexual apartheid".

"I have sat at the bedside of 12 friends who died of AIDS early in the epidemic in Australia," he said.

"This is a human rights issue. It's discrimination against people for something they don't choose and can't change.

"Unless we take steps, a lot of our brothers and sisters in the Commonwealth are going to die."


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