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Russia Leads Effort To Strip Gay Decriminalization From UN Measure

Russia led 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.

Diplomats said Russia had sought other changes in the resolution, but they were rejected over fears that they would allow Iran, Russia, and other countries that have anti-LGBT legislation to deny antiretroviral treatment to gay men.

Diplomats said Russia has also balked at treatments such as providing needles to drug addicts, even though most HIV infections in Russia are linked to drug injections.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and dpa