It is not okay to stigmatise people with leprosy. Say NO to the L word.

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'I stand with people affected by leprosy and call on the NZ herald and all politicians, newspapers, and anyone else, to add this horrible term that stigmatises people affected by leprosy to the collection of others that have become unprintable.'

It is with deep sadness to see that the NZ Herald have chosen to sensationalise a hurtful and derogatory term for people affected by leprosy in their front page headline today (Friday 5th June 2020). Read article here.

We are not here to criticise people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and have felt stigmatised, rather it is a criticism of the editorial choice of the NZ Herald which further stigmatise people affected by leprosy.

Unfortunately, the term too readily used by newspapers amongst others. This term offends people affected by leprosy. Whenever this term is used, it makes people affected by leprosy second-class citizens. If you’ve ever spoken to a person affected by leprosy about what it feels like when people use this term against them, you’ll know that it’s heart-breaking.

London-based New Zealander, Brent Morgan, is the International Director for The Leprosy Mission a global fellowship of 29 member countries and has written on the use of this term and says.

‘When we compare Covid-19 to leprosy, we perpetuate the myth that leprosy is highly contagious. This has a devastating impact on people affected by leprosy because people start to stay away from them. No one will work with them, live with them, or even go near them.

Leprosy is nothing like Covid-19 and the comparisons between the two are far from harmless. It is having a real impact on people affected by leprosy today.’

Because of this term, people affected by leprosy face rejection. The term creates stigma and this stigma means that people affected by leprosy have their rights stolen from them. They struggle to access safe housing, jobs, community, and even their families. No term that can have such a horrible impact should ever be used.

We have sent a letter to the New Zealand Herald and requested that this term is no longer deemed appropriate for printing and that an apology is printed acknowledging the poor editorial choice in today’s edition.

Today you can join the call for the NZ Herald, politicians, newspapers, and anyone else, to add this horrible term to the collection of others that have become unprintable.

Please sign this petition today to show your support.