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Amplify Blog - Zero Discrimination Day

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Amplify Blog - Zero Discrimination Day

Amplify Blog

The below is a guest blog by Malika, a QFCC Youth Advocate.


The 1st of March is a particularly important day to celebrate the right of everyone across the world to live a full and productive life. It’s Zero Discrimination Day. This is the day where we should actively choose to become informed about and promote “inclusion, compassion, peace, and above all, a movement for change” (UNAIDS, 2023). This global movement, however, does not stop in a single day. It is an ongoing and inspiring effort of universal solidarity to end all types of discrimination.

This year’s theme is “Save lives: Decriminalise”, which UNAIDS hopes to highlight how the decriminalisation of key populations and people living with HIV can save lives whilst advancing the end of the AIDS pandemic. There is a myriad of criminal law systems around the world which contravenes the human rights of people living with HIV. Unfortunately, this exacerbates the stigma countless people face and puts them in danger as it creates barriers to support services that are essential to protecting their health. These criminal laws are deemed unacceptable in Australia, so why should we allow it to continue in other countries? Zero Discrimination Day must serve as a reminder that just because a human rights issue does not directly affect us, does not mean we should be passive and silent.

With criminalisation, it’s not because marginalised groups are at a higher risk of HIV that they are criminalised, rather it’s because they are criminalised that they are at a higher risk of HIV.

It’s criminalisation that increases vulnerability.


In 2021, governments around the world set ambitious law reform targets to remove criminal laws that undermine HIV response. There was a collective sense that decriminalisation is a critical step towards progress, which saw the world commit to a 2025 target of having less than 10% of nations with punitive legal environments that impact the HIV response. However, the world is still very far from this target. There are currently 134 countries that explicitly criminalises and prosecutes HIV exposure, non-disclosure, or transmission and 20 countries that criminalise transgender persons. This is appalling especially with little to no conversations held in law-making spaces to protect the safety and wellbeing of people who have suffered from harsh laws and harmful stigma for generations.

In a country with no explicit criminal laws around HIV exposure, we are in a privileged position to have a platform to speak up on this injustice and put pressure on other nations to decriminalise populations living with HIV. Criminalisation is the fuel to discrimination and structural inequalities. It deprives millions of people from living a healthy, dignified, and fulfilling life, whilst blocking advancements to end AIDS. Starting now, we must decriminalise to save lives.