Last edited: February 14, 2005

U.N. Official: Caribbean Must Relax Antigay Laws

The Advocate, December 2001

Caribbean governments must relax laws criminalizing homosexuality and prostitution if they hope to combat AIDS, a U.N. official says. Gays and prostitutes "will not come forward to be tested, educated, and to be treated, because there are laws against them," said Ruben Del Prado, regional program adviser for the Joint U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Del Prado’s statements came at a news conference coinciding with the annual UNAIDS world report on the epidemic released Wednesday. The Caribbean, excluding Cuba, has an HIV infection rate of nearly 2%—the second-highest regional rate after sub-Saharan Africa. About 500,000 people in the Caribbean live with the disease; by contrast, aggressive campaigns in Cuba have kept infection rates low. Laws criminalizing homosexuality are common throughout the Caribbean. Penalties vary.

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