To protect LGBTQ+ people's health, protect LGBTQ+ people's rights Ahead of Pride Month (June), UNAIDS is calling on governments everywhere to protect the human rights of LGBTQ+ people.

The realization of human rights for all people, including LGBTQ+ people, is an integral part of achieving universal HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Progress towards the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 has been powered by progress in protecting human rights. But laws, policies and practices that punish, discriminate against and stigmatize people obstruct access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care.

The recent, well-coordinated and well-funded global pushback against rights is a threat to everyone’s health. In response to this threat, the AIDS movement and allies are “pushing back against the pushback", reminding world leaders of their commitments to uphold all human rights for all people. As communities across the world stand up for rights, the United Nations is not only on their side but by their side.

Some key messages

• Any discrimination against LGBTQ+ people is an attack on the principles of equality and dignity for all.

• All of us have a role in confronting the negative social attitudes which perpetuate stigma and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.

• Punitive laws, stigma and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people are not inevitable. Tackling prejudice is a question of political will. Campaigning by communities is essential to help build that will.

• Efforts to protect the human rights of LGBTQ+ people need to be intensified. This includes the need to strengthen political and financial support for policies and programs that combat stigma and discrimination, and for initiatives that promote inclusion and acceptance.

• Laws which criminalize LGBTQ+ people around the world, punish them for simply being who they are, reinforce stigma and discrimination and undermine public health.

• Punitive laws which criminalize consensual same sex relationships, or criminalize people based on their gender identity or expression and sexual orientation, need to be repealed.

• Acceptance of all people enables a healthier, safer, fairer society for everyone.

• UNAIDS calls on all States to provide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people with legal protections against discrimination. A more just, equitable and kind world is a healthier one, for everyone.

“Stigma kills, and anti-LGBTQ+ laws kill,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “In our response to HIV, we have learned that to protect everyone’s health, we need to protect everyone’s rights.”

Key figures

• Same-sex sexual activity is criminalized in 64 countries.

⁠• At the start of the AIDS pandemic in the early 1980s, most countries criminalized same-sex sexual activity between men, now two thirds do not.

• In sub-Saharan Africa, men who have sex with men in countries where they are criminalized, are 5 times more likely to have HIV than in countries that do not criminalize them.

• Research in sub-Saharan Africa has shown that knowledge of HIV status among gay men and other men who have sex with men is 3 times higher in countries with least repressive laws compared to those with the most repressive laws.

• Up to 24 countries in the world criminalize or prosecute transgender people.

• Transgender women are at 20 times greater risk of acquiring HIV than other adults.

The criminalisation of same-sex relationships must end, so must all violence, discrimination and harmful practices against LGBTQI+ communities." António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General.

Social media activities

To amplify the community voices and efforts, UNAIDS is launching a series of communications activities:

• LinkedIn article series featuring leaders like Andrew Spieldenner, Executive Director, Mpact; Dr Tlaleng, Special Rapporteur on the human right to health; Julia Ehrt, Executive Director, ILGA World; and more. Watch the space.

• Instagram Live Conversations with special guests Phill Wilson, HIV/AIDS activist, and Founder of Black AIDS (17 May), and Delovie Kwagala Aka Papa De, LGBTQ+ activist (14 June). Follow us and join the live.

• Video Series with activists and advocates like Paul Ndhlovu, Young leader for the SDGs; Paulie Amanita, Researcher and activist; Michael Akanji, Sexual Health and Rights Advocate, and more.

Twitter takeovers by two partners: MPACT (4 June) and GATE (21 June).

Suggested tweets

X: Upholding human rights is crucial for ensuring access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment & care for all. We join @‌UNAIDS in calling for #RightsEqualsHealth.

X: No form of discrimination is acceptable. There is no justification for denying any person’s human rights based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. When people are discriminated, their health is impacted. We stand with @‌UNAIDS to call for #RightsEqualsHealth for all.

X: Laws that criminalize LGBTQ+ people worldwide are an attack on their identity, reinforcing stigma, discrimination, and undermining public health. States must prioritize #RightsEqualsHealth to ensure everyone's well-being.

X: Our message is clear: An attack on LGBTQ+ rights affects us all. Discrimination creates healthcare barriers, worsens mental health, and hampers productivity and innovation, impacting society's progress and prosperity. #RightsEqualsHealth

X: It is not because people are at risk of HIV that they are criminalized; rather, it is because they are criminalized that they are at such heightened risk from HIV. Removing these laws, and tackling stigma and discrimination, reduces people’s vulnerability. #RightsEqualsHealth

UNAIDS stands with LGBTQ+ people everywhere who are facing hate, discrimination and marginalization and calls for an end to their criminalization.