New Delhi: Nearly 200 protesters participated in a demonstration outside the law ministry in Shastri Bhavan in New Delhi on Wednesday, demanding that the original version of the HIV/AIDS draft Bill be restored. They presented a signed memorandum to Hans Raj Bhardwaj, Union minister for law and justice, insisting that certain “dropped” chapters be restored immediately before it is tabled in the present session of Parliament. The revised Bill, they said, works against creating an enabling environment for sex workers, those who take drugs intravenously and men having sex with men who are at high risk of HIV.
Loon Gangte, president of the Delhi Network of Positive People, Raman Chawla, advocacy officer, Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS unit and Jahanbi Goswami, president of the Assam Network of Positive People, were the three representatives who met the minister.
Will listen: Union minister for law and justice Hans Raj Bhardwaj. PIB
According to Chawla, the minister assured them saying, “once we get the file from Naco (National AIDS Control Organisation) and look at both the drafts, we will reinstate the...chapters and make necessary changes”.
The Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS unit had submitted a draft after consultations with people living with HIV and AIDS, vulnerable communities, women and children’s groups, health care workers and other civil society groups to Naco, the nodal agency for HIV under the ministry of health, in August 2006. Naco submitted its modified version to the law ministry in September 2007. According to Anand Grover, advocate and director of Lawyers Collective, the revised Bill was severely “truncated”, and chapters on prevention and treatment that form the core of the National AIDS programme and those on strategies of risk reduction, and access to treatment were deleted. Also sections on prohibition of discrimination, informed consent, disclosure of information were watered down and provisions reducing vulnerability of women and children to HIV and AIDS dropped.