Still catching up from the last two weeks, this was in the first draft of my last entry. It got a bit too long, so it became a stand-alone entry.
Via Andrew Sullivan, this quote from UNAIDS on travel restrictions placed on HIV-positive individuals by the United States (pdf):
UNAIDS recognizes that States impose immigration and visa restrictions as a valid exercise of their national sovereignty. However, in imposing any restrictions on entry and stay relating to HIV or health, UNAIDS calls upon States to adopt non-discriminatory laws and regulations which rationally achieve valid objectives through the least restrictive means possible.
UNAIDS would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that HIV-related travel restrictions have no public health justification. It is also our view that, where such restrictions are based on HIV status alone, they are discriminatory. There is no need to single out HIV for specific consideration as an exclusion criterion. …
Etc, etc. Exactly how much hypocrisy is allowed before principled becomes merely a mish-mash of preferred outcomes? How long ago did UNAIDS pass that point? A non-discriminatory recognition of human rights would be an excellent start, as opposed to something like this (pdf):
7.3 Since neonatal circumcision is a less complicated and risky procedure than circumcision performed in young boys, adolescents or adults, such countries should consider how to promote neonatal circumcision in a safe, culturally acceptable and sustainable manner.
Now compare with this, from the same link:
The message that male circumcision is very different from female genital mutilation also needs to be emphasized.
Female genital mutilation, also called female genital cutting and female genital mutilation/cutting, violates the rights of women and girls to health, protection and even life as the procedure sometimes results in death.
Which can be said about male genital cutting. Still, UNAIDS doesn’t discriminate because it puts this in its report on “Safe, Voluntary, Informed Male Circumcision and Comprehensive HIV Prevention Programming” pdf:
Governments that introduce or expand services for male circumcision will have a responsibility to
launch public health campaigns that:
(iii) emphasize the voluntariness of male circumcision;
(iv) clearly distinguish male circumcision from female genital mutilation, which is a violation of the human rights of women and girls, is illegal in most countries where it still takes place, has no health benefits and carries considerable physical and psychosocial risks for girls and women;
The male genital cutting UNAIDS pushes is hardly voluntary, which makes it a violation of the human rights of men and boys. But we can’t say that because then we’d have to question what’s been done to so many. Instead, UNAIDS needs to silence criticism by drawing odd, strained attention to only the outcomes that fit its narrative. (It is hardly alone in this, of course.) For example:
How is male circumcision different from female genital mutilation?
While both male circumcision and female genital mutilation are steeped in culture and tradition, the health consequences of each are drastically different. Female genital cutting or mutilation comprises all surgical procedures involving partial or total removal of the external genitalia (type I) or other injuries to the female genital organs. …
And on it goes, willfully missing the obvious truth that the more than one million cases of “voluntary” male genital cutting or mutilation performed each year on infant males in the United States comprise surgical procedures involving partial or total removal of the external genitalia or other injuries to the male genital organs. The inherent human right to be free from that without consent does not disappear simply because cutting a boy’s genitals might reduce his risk of HIV in the future if he has unprotected sex with an HIV-positive female.
Infant male circumcision: ethical, legal and human rights considerations
Studies have shown that the circumcision of infants is simpler and carries fewer medical risks than circumcision of older people. Parents considering circumcision of an infant boy should be provided with all the facts so they can determine the best interest of the child. In these cases, determining the best interests of the child should include diverse factors—the positive and negative health, religious, cultural and social benefits. Because the HIV-related benefits of circumcision only arise in the context of sexual activity, and because male circumcision is an irreversible procedure, parents may consider that the child should be given the option to decide for himself when he has the capacity to do so.
And given the irreversible nature of circumcision, what happens when a male decides that having his normal, healthy foreskin would be in his best interests? Setting aside the topic of (potential) health benefits for the moment, parents may argue for positive religious, cultural, and social benefits for female genital cutting. UNAIDS recognizes that none of those are legitimate, so it rightly dismisses them. Yet, because it’s a penis, those same religious, cultural, and social benefits, as
determined dictated by the parents suddenly matter? No.
So, yeah, UNAIDS is right on the U.S. denial of entry to HIV-positive individuals. But UNAIDS does not practice what it preaches.
Post Script: See the section of the report titled “Protecting Women in the Context of Male Circumcision” for an understanding of this entry’s title.