Turmoil at 10th ICAAP in Busan: police and protesters skirmish
On Saturday, August 27, the protests at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center (BEXCO) briefly turned violent, with several protesters detained by the police. A day earlier, at the ICAAP opening ceremony, protesters interrupted the South Korean Health Minister’s speech before leaving the venue. Many in the LGBT community have also raised concerns over what they describe as significant levels of stigma and discrimination from various corners of government and society at large, and have called on the government to take steps to address what remains a very real issue that robs far too many individuals of their dignity and well-being.
The Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health, whose aim is to reduce the impact of HIV on men who have sex with men and transgender persons in the region, urges that dialogue be strengthened to discuss issues of universal access as well as stigma and discrimination, not only in South Korea but across Asia and the Pacific. These are hugely important matters that need to be examined carefully by governments and civil society alike, ideally in partnership and collaboration. Significant steps in this regard have already occurred in many countries, although challenges remain. It is in this spirit that many stakeholders have come together at ICAAP 10, to help identify gaps, offer ways to address these, share experiences and lessons learned, and reiterate that ultimately we must empower the vulnerable and marginalized sectors of our societies, if we are to make true headway in reducing the impact of HIV and AIDS, and moving to UNAIDS’ global vision of "zero new HIV infections, zero stigma and discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths."