U.N. HIV/AIDS Envoy Calls on Caribbean Governments To Decriminalize Homosexuality
George Alleyne, the United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, on Thursday said that Caribbean countries should repeal laws that criminalize same-sex contact, EFE/Latin American Herald Tribune reports. "I believe that the existence of these laws contribute to infected and potentially infected men not coming forward to be tested, and I believe and I will propose that such laws be revised," Alleyne said at a multifaith meeting in Georgetown, Guyana. He also called for a "civil discourse" between the religious community and policymakers on the public health and moral aspects of criminalizing same-sex contact. According to Alleyne, "rampant homophobia" is one of the "most egregious manifestations of stigma and discrimination." In addition, he said that few officials in the Caribbean have the courage to call for the repeal of such laws.
Rudolph Cummings, program manager for Health Sector Development at the Caribbean Community, said at a later news conference that most people in the region continue to reject homosexuality. "It's a political mine-field fraught with a lot of difficulties for the regional governments at this particular juncture and time," he said, adding, "While we have made certain types of social advances in the region, this is an area where many governments have indicated that their citizens are not quite at a position where they can endorse some of the kinds of broad-based legislation which has been endorsed in Europe and other places." According to Cummings, "painstaking work" is needed to guarantee that vulnerable groups -- such as commercial sex workers and men who have sex with men -- are reached through Caricom's HIV/AIDS programs (EFE/Latin American Herald Tribune, 12/11).