Today, the HIV Legal Network marks World AIDS Day by joining with the United Nations in a call to governments around the world to reform laws, policies, and practices that create and exacerbate the stigma faced by people living with HIV. This year’s theme is “Equalize” and we are recommitting ourselves to working to challenge laws that oppress people based on their HIV status, their sexual orientation, their drug use, or their involvement in sex work.
Keeping HIV at the forefront
The rights of people living with and affected by HIV are and have always been at the heart of our work. From our efforts to getting successful needle and syringe programs into federal prisons, to pushing for law reform to end HIV criminalization, to challenging in court anti-gay laws that fuel stigma and discrimination and drive new infections, we are focused on advocating for true equity. Here are some recent highlights:
- This week, we released the first-ever national independent study of Canada’s prison needle exchange program (PNEP) analyzing flaws in the program and making strong recommendations to promote greater access.
- Our long-standing work to reform Canada’s Criminal Code to end HIV criminalization in this country has resulted in the federal government announcing its new consultations on the topic. Watch for more information on how you can get involved!
- The HIV Legal Network is a proud member of the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform, a coalition of sex worker rights groups representing thousands of sex workers across the country. In October this year, the Alliance’s challenge to Canada’s sex work offences was heard at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
- We recently supported a critical case by a claimant who cannot be named because of risk to his safety to end the criminalization of LGBTQ+ people in Dominica, alongside our partner Minority Rights Dominica (MiRiDom).
All of this work and more is done to ensure that people living with and affected by HIV are truly protected by the laws and policies that govern their lives. Until their rights are fully respected, the goal of equalizing access to services cannot be realized. We are working to change this for good.
Federal funding must keep up
UN data shows that during the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and other global crises, progress against the HIV pandemic has faltered, resources have shrunk, and millions of lives are at risk as a result. On the international stage, we are heartened by Canada’s commitment of $1.21B to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, representing a marked increase in funding. Now we hope to see the same leadership from Canada on the domestic front, where HIV services have been chronically underfunded for almost 15 years. Since 2008, more than $123 million committed by the Canadian government to respond to the HIV epidemic has not been delivered. AIDS Service Organizations across Canada are working with fewer resources every year to support people living with HIV and prevent further transmission of the virus, often while leading the response to the drug poisoning crisis in their communities and doing this work without pause during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is imperative that the Government of Canada fulfils its promises when it comes to HIV funding here at home.
New podcast episodes now available!
The second English- and French-language episodes of Not a Crime/Pas un crime are live today!
In Not a Crime, HIV Legal Network’s own India Annamanthadoo and Mikhail Golichenko continue their conversation about policies that criminalize people who use drugs in Russia and the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region. Find out how repressive laws and policies in the region undermine human rights and how advocates there and around the world are mobilizing for change.
And in today’s new episode of Pas un crime, Cécile Kazatchkine takes us to Morocco to talk with Moulay Ahmed Douraidi (a well-known HIV and human rights activist there) about HIV non-disclosure in a country that doesn’t have specific laws governing disclosure and how people living with HIV are targeted all the same.
Help us bring Rights Within Reach – give today!
We know that a better, more just world is possible – and we can get there with your help. Give today to support our Rights Within Reach campaign and your donation will be doubled by Charlie’s Challenge, making your money go twice as far.
The HIV Legal Network
P.S. We are very pleased to share that long-time Legal Network friend – and the man behind Charlie’s Challenge – Andrew Beckerman has been named one of 2022’s Most Amazing People Living with HIV by Plus Magazine! Congratulations, Andrew!