- The United Nations has condemned the sentencing of nine gay activists in Senegal, saying it has no place in the response to the AIDS epidemic. The Senegalese court jailed nine men working to provide condoms and HIV treatment in Senegal to 8 years imprisonment for indecent conduct and unnatural acts last week.
Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS, Michel Sidibé said homophobia is a major setback, saying universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support must be accessible to all people including gay men.
"This will only happen if the men convicted are released and steps taken to rebuild trust with affected communities," he added.
UNAIDS has teamed up with civil society organisations, and other UN agencies including the European Union, to ensure the release of the detainees. Their case is currently on appeal.
The UN said that homophobia and criminalisation of consensual adult sexual behavior represent major barriers to effective responses to HIV. Homosexuality is illegal in Senegal.
"Such responses depend on the protection of the dignity and rights of all those affected by HIV, including their right and ability to organize and educate their communities, advocate on their behalf, and access HIV prevention and treatment services," it said in a statement.
The UN has also urged the Senegalese government to eliminate stigma and discrimination faced by gay men and create an enabling legal environment to protect their rights including better access for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.
The UN has further called for protection of gays rights despite their sexual orientation or gender identity.
"Those who are lesbian, gay or bisexual, those who are transgender, transsexual or intersex, are full and equal members of the human family and are entitled to be treated as such," the statement quoted the UN human rights chief Navi Pillay.
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