Queers for Social Justice Add Politics (& Fun) to Toronto Pride: Come out tonight & throughout the weekend

Toronto Pride has been underway in earnest since Monday.  It started with the flag raising at City Hall-skipped once again this year by our embarrassing Mayor, Rob Ford.  But really, it would be hypocritical of him to support LGBT (or HIV) issues at this point given his horrendous voting record and ignorant statements in the past.

Frankly, who needs him, when Queers for Social Justice have injected into Toronto Pride a huge dose of positive enegry, protest, fun, irreverence, and street theatre.  Queers for Social Justice has added “Activate” to official Pride theme “Celebrate & Demonstrate”.

Tonight, Queers for Social Justice is putting on a die-in at Church and Wellesley at 6:00 pm.  AAN! will be there Activating and Demonstrating against the criminalization of HIV nondisclosure position, and the “witch-hunt” being mounted by Ontario’s Attorney General and Crown Prosecutors. They will have signs to “fill-in” with the issue(s) you are passionate about. Join us and Q4SJ!

Yes, progressive activism is alive and well in Toronto LGBTQ communities, and on display once again this year at Pride.  Read their manifesto.   Follow them on social media.





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Update on Ontario Court of Appeal HIV Non-Dislcosure Criminal Cases: Postponed

We have been blogging lately about the Ontario Attorney General’s “witch-hunt” on people living with HIV-related to the arguments that the Attorney General is making in two cases currently at the Court of Appeal for Ontario.  The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network has posted an update on those cases.  Access the full document here, in English and French.  Stay tuned.  This issue is not going away.

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Criminalization of Drug Use Fuels the Global HIV/AIDS Pandemic

Today, in a newly released report, the Global Commission on Drug Policy calls for drug decriminalization and expansion of proven, cost-effective solutions to reduce HIV/AIDS – including sterile syringe access, safer injection facilities, and prescription heroin programs.

AAN! fully supports harm reduction measures and opposes the failed and destructive war on drugs-putting us in direct opposition to the harmful, destructive polices of the federal Conservative government.  Apparently, that puts us in some very powerful company! In it’s report, the Global Commission on Drug Policy is critical of various aspects of the Canadian government’s war on people who use drugs, including imprisonment as a risk factor for acquiring HIV.  In contrast, the report points out the HIV-preventing and health-promoting effects of treating addiction as a health issue: “… in British Columbia, Canada, the response to the explosive HIV epidemic that emerged among injection drug users in the mid-1990s has involved antiretroviral therapy, opioid substitution (including heroin prescription), syringe distribution and medically supervised injecting facilities, with resulting declines in HIV incidence and AIDS deaths among intravenous drug users there.”

In British Columbia, and across Canada, public health researchers and practitioners, human rights and other civil society organizations, groups of people who use drugs, and committed lawyers and the courts have fought the federal Conservative government to preserve these gains.  And let’s make no mistake, the federal Conservative government’s opposition to harm reduction is an anti-science, anti-academic, moral crusade on some of the most vulnerable members of society.  Even the National Post is calling them out on this one.

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Calling all AAN! Members & other HIV Activists Going to AIDS 2012 in Washington, DC

AIDS ACTION NOW! is gearing up for AIDS 2012 in Washington, DC on July 22-27.  We need your help!

Some people have the impression that AAN! is a large group doing our activist work – but really there is only a handful of us.  If you can help us out at AIDS 2012, in any way, it would be greatly appreciated and allow us to have a greater presence and impact at the Conference and beyond.  We are trying to get a lot done at AIDS 2012. AAN! will have a booth in the Global Village; we are hosting a session and a fundraiser; and are participating in variety of activist events throughout the conference.  If you want to be involved in Canadian activism at the conference, or keep up to date with activism activities, stay in touch with AAN!  And please help us!

Here are different ways to help:

1) If you’re going be to at the conference, join our Facebook group AIDS ACTION NOW @ AIDS 2012 conference in DC, email Nicole or Alex.

2) Please help us staff the AAN! booth in the Global Village at the conference. Visitors can buy T-shirts, smarty-underpants, posters and buttons for sale as a fundraiser. You can sign up for a shift at the booth here.

3) Join us at the big We Can End AIDS March on Tuesday July 24. We will be meeting at the AAN! booth at 10:30 a.m. to prepare for the big march. Join the AAN! contingent as we march in the Human Rights and Harm Reduction arm of the We Can End AIDS March. It will end in a giant rally!! Join the Facebook group so that we know you’ll be joining us and we can keep you up to date.

4) Come to our fundraiser party No Pants No Problem at Remington’s on Wed July 15. We will be hosting an underwear party at a gay cowboy bar on Capitol Hill as a fundraiser for AAN and International Community of Women Living with HIV!!  Its also the official after-party for the United in Anger documentary screening hosted by Visual AIDS.  Wear your undies for a discount at the door and bring your friends!

5) Join us for various direct actions and activism at the conference. We’re planning them now!  But you can keep up to date by staying in touch and checking out our AAN! Activist calendar.

6) Donate to AAN! We do not seek or accept funding from government or pharma companies.  We are entirely volunteer-driven.  Historically, the money to do our work has come from a few folks who died of AIDS in the 1990s and left us their small estates. Please support our efforts to take direct action to raise important human rights and social justice issues that affect people living with HIV. Email Brent if you are interested in making a donation.

See you at the conference! In Solidarity, The AAN! Steering Committee

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Community-Based HIV Legal Groups Oppose Ontario Crown Position in HIV Non-Dislcosure Cases

This post is a follow-up to yesterday’s posting, “Ontario Crown Prosecutors on Witch-Hunt”.

The HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic (Ontario), better known as HALCO, and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, are intervening in the two HIV non-disclosure cases at the Ontario Court of Appeal.  Both these organizations have worked on the criminalization issue for almost two decades, and bring significant legal expertise and community perspectives to this work.

For this reason, the Court of Appeal for Ontario granted them “intervenor” status in the case, which allows them to make legal arguments to the court, both in writing and orally at the hearing.


Here is an overview of the argument that HALCO and the Legal Network put forward in their written submissions to the court:

HALCO and the Legal Network also make three important policy arguments

  • First, they argue that the role of the criminal law in addressing HIV non-dislcsure should be limited, since any use of the criminal law calls for caution and restraint.
  • Second, the overly broad use of the criminal law threatens the HIV testing and other public health initiatives that have proven to modify behaviour that risks transmitting HIV.
  • Third, disclosure is an intensely personal and difficult undertaking, complicated by factors such as potential abuse and violence, and fear of disclosure by sexual partners, which can often lead to stigma and discrimination.  The overly broad use of the criminal law against people living with HIV only makes HIV disclosure more difficult.

If you haven’t had a chance to do so, please email Ontario Attorney General John Gerretson and Premier Dalton McGuinty. Tell them to stop the witch-hunt against people living with HIV. Tell them they are putting lives at risk and sacrificing justice at the feet of prejudice and ignorance.  Stop them before they turn back the clock on the HIV/AIDS epidemic and turn their back on people living with HIV. Email them today, before it is too late! jgerretsen.mpp@liberal.ola.org /dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org.

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