Let us work to change discriminatory laws to ensure the rights of all – UNAIDS Ghana
- Today 1st of March is Zero Discrimination Day.
Today 1st of March is Zero Discrimination Day. It is a day set aside by the United Nations to turn the spotlight on one of the biggest challenges in our societies today: Discrimination.
“On this day, we are obliged to ask ourselves not only about the meaning of discrimination, but also take a moment to reflect on whether we are fully aware of our actions – Are we discriminating in any way?” “Are we respecting the human rights of everyone?” Angela Trenton-Mbonde, UNAIDS Country Director remarks.
On Zero Discrimination Day, UNAIDS recalls the equal dignity and worth of every person, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is calling for action to change discriminatory laws and practices, which are a significant barrier for access to health and other services.
“Human rights violations are happening all over the world because of discriminatory laws and practices,” say Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS in a press release issued from its head office in Geneva, Switzerland. “Laws must protect, not cause harm. All countries must carefully examine their laws and policies in order to ensure equality and protection for all people, without exception.” He adds.
UNAIDS highlights the landmark decisions a number of countries have made to change discriminatory laws and bills. The Philippines lowered the age of consent for voluntary HIV testing without the need to obtain consent from a parent or guardian to 15 years and Malawi removed provisions from a draft bill that would have criminalized HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission.
Ghana has made progress in enacting laws to protect the rights of people living with HIV. For example, the Ghana AIDS Commission Act upholds the human rights of persons living with HIV as enshrined in the Constitution, and the right to redress in cases of violation. UNAIDS commends Ghana in this feat and encourages countries to examine discriminatory provisions in their laws and policies and make positive changes to ensure equality, inclusion and protection.
UNAIDS is therefore proposing specific actions that individuals, civil society organizations, parliamentarians and donor organizations can take to change discriminatory laws. These range from being an ally to someone affected by a discriminatory law to joining a nongovernmental organization, tabling amendments to laws and calling for reviews of legislation.
Working together to change discriminatory laws will restore dignity and respect and save lives.