Following last night’s historic House of Lords vote to allow the Marriage (same sex couples) Bill to proceed, you may be forgiven for not noticing that later in the evening a short debate was held on the subject of the global fund for HIV/AIDS.
The debate was tabled by Conservative peer Lord Fowler, a former Health Secretary in the 1980s when the news of HIV first hit the headlines. In fact, it was Lord Fowler who was responsible for the first-ever UK government educational campaign on HIV.
During the debate, the Tory peer pointed out the importance of the global fund on HIV/AIDS and that in the last ten years the fund has become the “chief means of combating” the disease. Fowler went on to say the fund has estimated that over the next three years, 2014-2016, it will need $15 billion, a large increase on what is currently available, if it is to be as effective as possible in this important fight.
Ending his speech, Lord Fowler commented on the equal marriage vote, saying “we have sent out a clear message that we in this country believe in equality of treatment for all.”
He went further to say:
“I put it to the Minister that it would be even better if tonight she could set out the British Government’s plans to help the global fund fight one of the most important health battles that the world now faces. That is a historic battle and this country could make an important and valuable contribution to it.”
Responding for the government, Baroness Northover stressed the UK goverment’s commitment to fighting this disease, pointing out that we are the third largest contributor, having given a total to the fund of £1bn 2008-2015. She went on to say that some reviews were ongoing but that government intends to remain at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention.
Commenting for LGBTory – the Conservative Party’s affiliated LGBT group, Chairman Matthew Sephton said:
“I am delighted to hear, as important as yesterday’s vote on equal marriage was, that Parliamentarians are remembering there continue to be many issues of concern for LGBT people. Lord Fowler has always taken a great interest, particularly in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and I’m pleased to see him continuing to do so.”