Lord Fowler calls for decriminalisation of homosexuality around globe to fight AIDS

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Former Thatcher Cabinet Minister Lord Fowler, has called for efforts to ensure homosexuality is decriminalised around the world, to help in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Speaking a week ahead of World Aids Day on 1 December, the former Tory Health Secretary asked a question to Baroness Northover, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, in the Department for International Development.

He said: “Is not the worst feature of that figure of 35 million people living with HIV around the world that half of them are undiagnosed, and the principal reason is that people are prevented coming forward for testing because of the prejudice and fear that surrounds this area?

“As we approach World AIDS Day in about a week’s time, will the Government renew their efforts to persuade a change of policy in the 80 countries around the world, several of which are in the Commonwealth, where homosexuality is still a criminal offence?” he asked.

After noting that the number of new HIV infections had fallen from 3.6 million to 2.1 million, Baroness Northover replied: “I start by paying tribute to my noble friend for his outstanding work in this field, and not least for his new book, which I have been reading with great interest, AIDS: Don’t Die of Prejudice. He makes a very strong case not only for action in the United Kingdom—which, of course, he led on, and which I hope he will agree we have maintained—but for very active work overseas.

“It is by being inclusive, not stigmatising, and by making sure that prevention, treatment and care are all taken forward for everybody that we will indeed turn this around.”

Lord Fowler was presented with the PinkNews Award for Peer of the Year last month, presented by William Hague.