Caricom heads reject HIV recommendations

St Kitts and Nevis former Prime Minister, Dr Denzil Douglas. (guyanatimesinternational.com)

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Regional heads of government have rejected in their present form, recommendations aimed at curbing HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Dr Denzil Douglas, who has responsibility for health matters within the quasi-CARICOM Cabinet, made the disclosure during yesterday’s post-summit news conference.

“The heads of government felt that the documentation as presented was not yet ready for consideration and therefore it was deferred for later. And so this continues to be work in progress,” Dr Douglas said.

“But just to emphasize, I think what came through from the discussions was that this definitely was not to be interpreted as a support for gay rights and same-sex marriage going into the future. That’s not what it was at all and I think that was made very clear in our discussion.”

The document is the result of consultations held in about five countries by PANCAP – the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV & AIDS – which is an organ of Caricom.

Days before Caricom leaders began their just-concluded meeting in Antigua, over 140 regional groups had urged them not to adopt the proposals as they would jeopardize the region’s future.

During yesterday’s news conference St Vincent and the Grenadines dismissed suggestions that he and his peers had bowed to pressure.

He explained that among other things, some of the language used in the declaration needed to be changed.

Dr Gonsalves said it’s unreasonable to think regional leaders would have resolved any concerns about the recommendations during this week’s summit.

The PANCAP recommendations include sexual orientation a protected category for non-discrimination.