Criminal law is the most severe tool a country has to influence behaviour and punish people who go against the rules of society.

But in many countries, criminal law is being used against people who have done nothing wrong.

Our communities are being targeted!

  • People living with HIV

  • People who use drugs

  • Sex workers

  • People who engage in same-sex sexual relations

  • Trans, gender diverse and gender non-conforming people

We are being monitoredharassedcharged with crimessentenced to jail

Using criminal law in this way is unfair. It violates human rights. It interferes with the prevention and treatment of communicable diseases.

We know that criminalisation of our communities harms individuals

  • We experience violence and face extortion.
  • We are unable to access sexual and reproductive health services and harm reduction services.
  • We go to jail for behaviour that does not harm anyone.
  • We experience privacy violations.
  • We have to hide our true identities, isolate ourselves and flee from our homes.
  • We are unable to find housing and employment.
  • We experience rejection and shame.
  • We live in fear.

We know that criminalisation of our communities harms public health

  • Stigma, discrimination and violence against our communities increase.
  • HIV testing rates are too low.
  • Misinformation about HIV and other communicable diseases spreads.
  • Treatment uptake is too low.
  • Intimate partner violence escalates.
  • People are unable to use STI prevention and harm reduction services.
  • Violence against sex workers rises.
  • Youth do not receive comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education and services.

Explore Key Populations’ Criminalisation Globally

The HIV Policy Lab is a unique collaboration between academic, UN, and civil society organizations to track, measure, and improve the HIV-related law and policy environment in countries around the world.

Source: HIV Policy Lab

HIV Policy Lab map

The Global HIV Criminalisation Database consolidates three databases in one: regularly updated information and analysis of HIV criminalisation laws; a regularly updated searchable global database of reported HIV criminalisation cases; and a directory of organisations around the world actively working against HIV criminalisation.

Source: HIV Justice Network

The map provides information on laws that criminalise the sale of sexual services, the purchase of sexual services, and the facilitation, management, or organisation of sex work.

Source: Global Network of Sex Work Project (NSWP)

ILGA World maps are among the most shared visual representations of how LGBTIQ people are affected by laws and policies around the world.

Source: ILGA World

What will it take to end the criminalisation of our communities?

Solidarity and collaboration amongst our communities.


Support from our allies, United Nations agencies and funders.

Let’s mobilise, connect, and take action. In solidarity we stand strong.