LSACA warns people living with HIV against flouting laws

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The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Lagos State AIDS Control Agency (LSACA), Dr.  Sunday Temowo, has warned that those living with HIV who contravene the law will be prosecuted.

He stated this after a meeting with the Joint United Nation Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), Population Council (PC), The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs), Society for Family Health (SFH), Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH).

The meeting was aimed at re-strategising against the spread of the disease based on the revelation of the arrest and arraignment of 40 men having sex with men (MSM) in the state, with 23 of the 28 adults being HIV positive persons while three out of the minors were reactive.

The agency said it would not protect anyone from prosecution, if he contraveneed the law, but that the agency was only concerned about public health.

According to him, efforts must be intensified to increase residents’ awareness, so that they can get free HIV testing provided by the government to achieve the 90-90-90 initiative by 2020 and eradication of HIV by 2030.

Temowo said the initiative was aimed at getting 90 percent of the residents counselled and tested to know their HIV status and 90 percent of those that know their status to have access to treatment while 90 percent of those on treatment have viral load suppression tos top them from infecting others.

He called on Lagosians to get free HIV Testing Services (HTS) at the general hospitals close to their residence, adding that the agency has trucks that would move to the nooks and crannies of the state to enable  residents get free HIV testing and treatment.

Citizens Right Director, Ministry of Justice/Chairman, and Domestic and Sexual Response team, Mrs Omotilewa Ibirogba, said there is same-sex marriage prohibition law in the state.

“It is CAP S3 Law of Lagos State, 2015. Essentially, what that law states is that there is a prohibition of same- sex marriage within the state. The development at Ikorodu did not involve marriage per se, but rather  homosexuality. To take it a step further, even if you are married elsewhere to the same sex, those cannot come, live or stay in the state and enjoy the same right as those that are married to the opposite sex.  The state law recognises only marriage between a man and a woman.

“For those caught at Ikorodu, the children among them have been taken before the Family Court because it has the proper jurisdiction and the adults to the law court with the proper jurisdiction,” Mrs Ibirogba said.

Public Prosecutions Director Mrs Titilayo Shitta-Bay said it is about the contravention of the law of the state. “Nationally, same-sex marriage is prohibited in Nigeria. Same- Sex Prohibition Act came into effect in January 2014. Provisions in the criminal law/code also forbids same sex activities like sexual activities against the order of nature. Anybody that gets involved in such will be charged to court. The minors among them were charged under Section 261 in the Family Court and not in the regular court because they are under aged, and they have rights under the Child’s Right Law.”

She advised the public , particularly operators of hotels, clubs and bars from such activities, adding: “Organising or operating gay clubs is an offence in this country. Contravention attracts 10 years’ imprisonment.’’

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