Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A 2nd Quarter 2011 Wrap

Defending Against HIV Criminalization: Reality Check 2011

Did you know that being HIV positive could and has been used a means to imprisoned individuals for decades, and in many cases some have to register as sex offenders, as a consequence of exaggerated fears about HIV. Did you know that most of these cases involve consensual sex or conduct such as spitting and biting that has only a remote possibility of HIV exposure. For example, a number of states have laws that make it a felony for someone who has had a positive HIV test to spit on or touch another person with blood or saliva. Did you know that Arkansas was one of 34 such states with laws on the books which have been used to prosecuted persons often based on misinformation and often times just plain old ignorance. Well believe it because it's all true as chronicled in the The Center for HIV Law and Policy first comprehensive analysis of HIV-specific criminal laws and prosecutions in the United States. The publication, Ending and Defending Against HIV Criminalization: State and Federal Laws and Prosecutions, covers policies and cases in all fifty states, the military, federal prisons and U.S. territories was released in November 2010. This groundbreaking document offer a bold analysis of the issue of HIV criminalization in all 50 states. It discerns on a case by case outline on how many of these laws have become "weapons of mass destruction" in the lives of an array of both men and women. This report is vital in regards to the recent mash up of  a local man who has been ensnared in the criminal and mental health systems of this state which continues to cause him angst and uncertainty. His case was a "spitting" episode that resulted in false statement, sketchy jurist prudence and possible civil rights if not human rights violations. As I've reviewed the case, it's the damnest thing I've seen in awhile.  Let me be clear, these laws carry both a class A Misdemeanor or Felony charge which can affect a persons lively hood for the rest of their lives. Just so you would know and this forum wants everyone to know that these laws are in effect and you need to be aware of it. We've actually posted them for your education and empowering purposes. The entire PDF can be downloaded at http://www.hivlawandpolicy.org/. It may be a bit heady reading, but take your time, it's worth it. Your life might depend on it.  The effort was a  Positive Justice Project funded by CHLP, MAC AIDS Fund and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. COP24/7 credits their site with some contributing content. For more information contact any of our local agencies, community based organizations or service providers. Here are the laws:

Ark. Code Ann. § 5-14-123Class A FelonyIt is a class A felony for a person who knows that he or she has tested positive for HIV to expose another to HIV (1) through the transfer of blood or blood products or (2) by engaging in sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, anal intercourse, or any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person's body or of any object into the genital or anal openings of another person's body, without first having informed the other person of the presence of HIV. The emission of semen is not a required element of the crime.
Ark. Code Ann. § 20-15-903Class A MisdemeanorA person who is HIV positive must, prior to receiving any health care services of a physician or dentist, advise such physician or dentist that the person has HIV. Failure to do so is a class A misdemeanor.

Little Rock Finding Shelter for Homeless

After much wrangling, site visits and vigorous back and forth of community residents and other interested parties. The City of Little Rock has struck a deal with the Union Rescue Mission to jointly work on offering a a day center for the homeless. Wow, was it just this easy, since the URM has been in this business since 1957 and that was before I was born.  So, all it took was a letter from Rev. William Tollett citing that URM was willing to work with the city on a lease/purchase effort and viola it appears that it's a done deal. Maybe. Of course in this city, nothing ever seems to be just a done deal. This entire effort has been kicked down the road, debated to death and some of everybody taking the "NIMBY" (not in my back yard) stance over the years. In case you don't know where URM is located, the reason that their is no apparent citizens opposition to this decision is because the facility sits literally isolated on Confederate Blvd adjacent to railroad tracks. Is this the out of mind, out of sight attitude that individuals want to take when dealing with this particular problem. If we don't see it, then perhaps it doesn't exist, problem solved. Hopefully, this day center will be designed to be effective and actually have tangible outcomes with the available funding. According to Arkansas Democrats reports, the building is appraised at $210,000. Mayor Stodola said Gov. Mike Beebe has committed $137,000 in stimulus money for the building’s renovation; Little Rock has $477,000 in federal block grant money and North Little Rock has committed and appropriated up to $200,000 for the acquisition of property.
The two cities currently spend a combined $300,000 a year on the day resource center at River City Ministry. A one-night count of the region’s homeless population in January found 1,276 people spending the night in shelters or on the streets in Pulaski, Saline, Lonoke and Prairie counties.
Nationwide, a federal government report released this month showed that the country’s homeless population increased 1.1 percent last year from 643,067 people in 2009 to 649,917 in 2010.

KUDOS to KUAR

KUAR, the local affiliate of National Public Radio is to be commended and saluted as they ended their Gay in Arkansas series. It's this type of programming that assist with breaking barriers while offering "teachable moments" for those who need such a education. Producers Kelly M. and Eric F. through the grant from the Darragh Foundation presented a well rounded snapshot of those living the life in Arkansas. As I checked into the website, I didn't notice a lot of comments being posted, even though I have heard from many of you who heard my segment. In order for us to continue to get this support, I want to encourage all of this forum's readership to share your thoughts with KUAR. Listen up, it's all about the numbers and backtalk that translate to those who green light projects. If producers can't produce an engaged audience then it's presumed that no one wants to listen to this type of programming.  Also you can hear coverage of Gov. Beebe's talk with the Stonewall Democrat's (6/28/11). This first for a sitting Arkansas Governor is a testament that we must seek to speak to power and put a face on the issues that fuel the community. Unfortunately I was unable to attend due to some very odd circumstances but I believe that the Gov was in good company. In the meantime don't forget to tell KUAR that your heard the series, share your appreciation of the project and let them know that COP/24/7 sent ya! Here's the link: http://www.kuar.org/


Swirl: Diversity in Motion Returns, October 14, 2011. What to know more? Then stay tuned to this forum as we bring you all the latest updates, links, videos and even some free stuff! Subscribe, E-mail us and Follow Us. We are your only daily updating portal for the GLBTQ community and beyond!

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