Leading Global Health Groups Slam SCOTUS’ Verdict Ruling APLO Constitutional Says Few Organizations Have Right to Speech

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2020

CONTACT: Madison Donzis | [email protected] 

BREAKING: Leading Global Health Groups Slam SCOTUS’ Verdict Ruling APLO Constitutional Says Few Organizations Have Right to Speech

WASHINGTON, DC -- Moments ago, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath (APLO), a provision in the 2003 United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act, that required all recipients of funding through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to “have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution.” While a prior 2013 decision ruled that the APLO is unconstitutional as applied to U.S. based organizations, the ruling today declined to extend those protections to their foreign affiliates, a ruling that will further divide and hamper the global AIDS response. 

“This ruling is disconcerting and shameful,” said Serra Sippel, President of CHANGE (the Center for Health and Gender Equity), who has fought against the provision for years. “APLO hurts public health outcomes and it has always been bad policy. Social stigmas that disproportionately impact and undermine the sexual and reproductive health rights of people across the globe do not belong in our nation’s foreign aid programs. 

“On a global scale, international health and development agencies including UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNDP, the WHO, and the World Bank have recognized the role that decriminalization of sex work plays in advancing public health outcomes while also advancing the human rights of sex workers. For example, the decriminalization of sex work would have the greatest effect on the course of HIV epidemics across all settings, averting 33–46% of new HIV infections in the next decade. 

“CHANGE will continue to fight to advance the human rights of sex workers.”

In 2016, CHANGE released a report highlighting the role that decriminalization of sex work plays in advancing health and rights internationally, and provides recommendations for actions that the U.S. government can take to advance these objectives. CHANGE and ASWA, together with global activists, will continue to push governments to include sex workers and craft responses based in public health and human rights.

“Punitive laws, policies and practices continue to make it difficult for sex workers to access comprehensive, accessible and affordable health care. While considerable efforts to prevent and treat HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) have targeted sex workers especially Female Sex Workers (FSW) over the past decade, other sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs such as contraception, cervical cancer screening and sexual violence have received far less attention,” said Grace Kamau, Regional Coordinator, African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA). “This ruling will continue to make things worse especially in advancement of sex workers rights, which are already under resourced.”

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