Radio Free Europe is reporting that Russia is leading an effort at the United Nations to strip language from an AIDS resolution that would have called for the decriminalization of homosexuality and drug use.
Russia was joined by Iran, Poland, and several Gulf states in blocking the decriminalization language from being included in a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on June 8 that called for ending the AIDS pandemic by 2030.
An earlier draft resolution had called for treating homosexuality and drug use as “human rights issues.” Instead, it now stresses the need to help intravenous drug users, gay men, and transgender people who are at high risk of contracting HIV.
Russian health official Dilyara Ravilova-Borovik said that while more must be done to end HIV/AIDS, governments have a “sovereign right” to decide their own public health strategy.
One week ago a Kremlin-backed group blamed condoms for the spread of HIV.
Russia’s AIDS epidemic is at a dangerous tipping point after the number of people registered HIV-positive has passed the 1 million mark.
Almost 20 percent of the country’s drug users and nearly 10 percent of the country’s gay people were HIV-positive. Between 55 and 60 percent of cases are linked to drug use and around 40 percent to heterosexual sex. Gay sex accounted for only about 1.5 percent.