October 16, 2013
BRUSSELS — HIV experts and advocates spoke out against Russia’s so-called anti-gay law here at EACS 2013, saying that the law will have a harmful effect on public health.
Article 6.21 of the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offenses allows the Russian government to fine individuals accused of the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations amongst minors.”
However, according to Tamás Bereczky, of the European AIDS Treatment Group, the law is discriminatory and impedes individuals with HIV from seeking care.
“This law is purportedly directed against propaganda for minors, but, in fact, we know that, in practice, this law is being ostensibly used for the persecution of gays in general,” he said during a press conference. “We believe that this is not conducive to an enabling environment. On the contrary, this keeps people from getting tested. We know that early diagnosis and early treatment is key to a long, healthy life.”
In a statement, EACS said it supports the protection of minors from harmful information, but the law’s provisions are damaging to human rights and the promotion of health, both of which share a synergistic relationship.
When asked what effect the joint statements will have on public policy, Nathan Clumeck, MD, EACS conference co-chair, said it was unlikely that there would be any noticeable change.
“But, to be silent, we are complicit, and we are not…” he said. “History will prove us right.”