UNAIDS to India: Include MSM as Homosexuality is no disease

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New Delhi, Jul 5: Just a day after Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Union Health Minister, termed men having sex with men (MSM) as a 'disease' and 'unnatural', UNAIDS was quick to give the Indian government a rap in the knuckle. It said that Homosexuality is not a disease and there is no place for discrimination on the basis of a person's sexual orientation.

In a statement, Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS executive director said, "India's rich tradition of inclusivity and social justice must include men who have sex with men and transgender people."

He added, "There is no place for stigma and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Consistent with WHO's disease classification, UNAIDS does not regard homosexuality as a disease."

Sidibe said that India's successful AIDS response was possible due to such men. He said, "India's successful AIDS response has been possible due to the strong participation of communities of men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs and transgender people backed by a strong and progressive National AIDS policy."

It can be recalled that Azad at the national Convention of Parliamentarians on HIV/AIDS on Jul 4 said, "The disease of MSM is unnatural and not good for India. We are not able to identify where it is happening as it is less reported also."

He had gone on to add, "It is a challenge because in cases of female sex workers we can identify the community and reach out to them. But in case of MSM, it is becoming difficult."

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