Two United Nations agencies have issued a joint call to boost protection of the human rights of people regardless of their sexual orientation or their actual or presumed HIV status.
In a statement, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) urged “all governments to be vigilant in respecting and protecting the rights of individuals in this regard, in particular the rights of all to be free from murder, torture, violence, arbitrary arrest and vilification, regardless of their HIV status or sexual orientation.”
The bodies voiced their concern over reports of forced HIV testing, arbitrary detention on the basis of HIV status and the disclosure of one’s HIV status without consent.
Again, this is a noble goal. I agree with it. But UNAIDS fascinates me with where it draws its lines on human rights. Forced HIV testing is bad. Forced genital mutilation¹ is good. Taking a person’s blood, which the body will replace, is bad. Taking a male’s foreskin, which his body will not replace, is good.
Does this have something to do with intent? Presumably governments are forcing HIV tests on people to facilitate persecution and/or exclusion. That’s inarguably bad, since individual liberty based on human rights is a valid principle. Presumably parents are forcing genital mutilation on their male children for its potential to
prevent reduce the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission. Even if I assume this intention is Good™, condoms and behavior modification achieve better results. They are the specific, identifiable reasons why we must not abandon the fair and equal protection of human rights, regardless of gender. Yet, UNAIDS rebukes this understanding of rights in favor of fear and panic, with an additional nod to tradition².
Any idea that a right to remain free from unnecessary, unjustified force vests after some extraneous condition is met is invalid. I suspect UNAIDS would argue against that interpretation of its actions. Its actions argue against any other interpretation.
¹ But ONLY on boys; UNAIDS has ethics and how dare anyone who suggests otherwise.
² This argument strikes me as succumbing to fear. It’s easier to accept a human rights violation than it is to call it out and risk being criticized by those who practice the tradition. This is the coward’s path.