Taking a petition to the UN Human Rights Council - 2021
People from across the world signed an anti-discrimination petition
There are more than 100 laws across the world that discriminate against people based on leprosy. These laws concern a range of fundamental human rights. They deny access to public transport and to jobs, they allow for divorce on the grounds of leprosy and the prevention of immigration status on the grounds of leprosy. They allow for legal segregation and limit political rights, including voting rights. These laws exist in countries as diverse as the USA, Malta, India, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, and the UAE. Until all of these laws are repealed, persons affected by leprosy cannot achieve full access to their rights.
Throughout 2021, TLM ran a petition campaign in countries across the world. We asked individuals to sign the online petition so that we could present it to key policymakers. The petition called for all of these laws to be repealed. We are grateful to the many thousands of people who signed the petition.
The petition was presented at the UN in Geneva
TLM's Country Leader in Switzerland, Markus Freudiger, presented this petition to five permanent missions at the UN in Geneva. Markus met with diplomats from Hungary, Bangladesh, Brazil, Namibia, and Nepal. Markus presented the petition to these permanent missions and asked them to remember these laws when they are taking part in Universal Periodic Reviews of the human rights situations in UN countries.
We asked the permanent missions to remember these laws when countries with offending laws are being reviewed by the UN's Human Rights Council. We asked that these permanent missions hold countries to account if they are discriminating against persons affected by leprosy in law.
Markus' visit to these permanent missions was timed to coincide with a report to the UN's General Assembly on this same topic by the UN's Special Rapporteur on the discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their families.
This is an issue TLM will continue to campaign on
Following the meetings in Geneva, TLM has been talking to one of the nations we met with that has a discriminatory law to explore options for repealing the law. Meanwhile, campaigning has been underway for many years in some of the other countries with discriminatory laws.
The Leprosy Mission Trust India has built a strong relationship with the Indian government and together they have been mapping all of the existing laws and working on a plan to repeal them. Meanwhile, our team in Nepal have been campaigning to repeal a law that allows persons affected by leprosy to be divorced simply because of leprosy.
TLM will continue to campaign on this issue so that we achieve a world where no one can be the victim of a law that discriminates against people because of leprosy.