July 18, 2014
HIV/AIDS and gay rights should be a separate conversation – PM

The fight against HIV/AIDS should not be an agenda for gay rights, says Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.{{more}}

The Prime Minister, speaking at a press conference at Cabinet Room on Monday, said while there is a legitimate debate to be held on gay rights, that discussion should be kept separate and distinct from the progress that has been made over the years in the battle against the deadly disease.

“The Caribbean, and certainly in CARICOM, we have made tremendous advances in fighting it.

“The public discussion over the last 20 years is incredible; everybody knows about HIV and AIDS and it’s openly discussed.

“Then it is accepted that you get HIV and AIDS, apart from things like blood transfusion… if you are dealing with sexual activity; homosexual and heterosexual activity you can have HIV, and it is accepted that there are some high risk groups; prostitutes and persons involved with prostitutes, and if you have a series of multiple partnerships, and also person who are engaged in homosexual activity. These have been established and people have that discussion.

“We have made progress with respect of the accessibility and availability of anti-retroviral drugs.

“We have almost beaten the ‘beast’ of mother to child transmission…. We have made immense progress on that…

“So we mustn’t reach the stage now where we are saying the only way we can make further inroads against HIV and AIDS is to decriminalise sexual activity among consenting males in private… (and) that the way to do it is to go beyond that and even embrace civil partnerships for males and females.

“I don’t accept the thesis,” Gonsalves said.

According to Gonsalves, although there is some relevance between the continuing fight against HIV and AIDS and gay rights, the two should be separate conversations, and one should not be used in an effort to advance the other.

He said that while he is aware of what is taking place in society, he would not be leading any debate on the topic of gay rights.

“I have said before that in my view the churches, the NGOs, the press are well placed to fuel and have that mature conversation.

I’m not leading that discussion but I have said it is a decision which people of mature disposition in the Caribbean and elsewhere should have because there are some issues which need ventilation and clarification and which we have to take cognisance of as our societies move forward.”(JJ)