The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said his government will sustain efforts to strengthen and ensure strict enforcement of laws to protect and end all forms of discrimination and stigmatization against people with disabilities, persons living with HIV/AIDS, and other vulnerable groups.
Obaseki gave the assurance in commemoration of the United Nations Zero Discrimination Day, marked on March 1, each year. The 2023 celebration has the theme, “Save lives: Decriminalise.”
According to Obaseki, “This year’s Zero Discrimination Day presents another opportunity to renew our commitment to creating a world where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their race, status, gender, or any other factor. Discrimination has no place in a just and equitable society, and it behooves global stakeholders to work collectively, taking very critical steps to eliminate discrimination in all its forms.”
He further noted, “As a government, we are proud to celebrate the diversity of our people and the richness it brings to our communities and will continue to promote inclusion, equity, tolerance, and the protection of human rights.
“We are taking necessary steps to guarantee better welfare and the protection of our people, especially the vulnerable and marginalized members of society. We are paying critical attention to the yearnings and aspirations of the physically challenged, women, children, people living with HIV/AIDS, the disadvantaged, and other vulnerable groups in society and are set out to eliminate the discrimination, inequalities, and all forms of man-made barriers hindering their progress.”
Obaseki added, “As a government, we recognize that discrimination against these groups is a serious issue that has far-reaching consequences for their health, well-being, and overall quality of life, and are working with lawmakers and other stakeholders to strengthen and ensure strict enforcement of laws put in place to protect the rights of all individuals, regardless of their gender, disability or HIV status.”
According to Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, “Criminalizing laws chase people away from life-saving treatment. Those need to be removed. The only reason people are still dying of AIDS is the inequalities in society, from social norms, from the lack of opportunities in school, etc. and all these come together to make them more at risk.”