The REPEAL HIV Discrimination Bill Is Introduced
Today, at the “HIV Criminalization: Why it Should Matter to You” panel at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation conference, Oscar Mairena, Staff Assistant to Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), announced that Representative Lee would introduce the REPEAL (Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal) HIV Discrimination Act this afternoon. The bill will require the US Attorneys General, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Secretary of Defense to work with State Attorney Generals, public health officials and people living with HIV to review laws, policies and court cases to determine ways to create nondiscriminatory policies surrounding people with HIV/AIDS in criminal cases. They would also be responsible for monitoring state laws to ensure new policies are being properly implemented
As explained at the panel, 34 states and 2 U.S. territories currently have laws on the books that criminalize the perceived exposure of HIV, many of which date to the early or late 1990s. Unfortunately, these laws represent outdated and misconceived notions that people living with HIV don’t act responsibility when, in reality, the majority of people living with HIV practice safer sex. As a result, the laws have created genuine discrimination in the prosecution of people living with HIV. For example, there have been instances when people living with HIV have been prosecuted for an act that has no risk of HIV transmission such as spitting or biting. In Michigan a prosecutor attempted to charge a man who bit his neighbor during a fight over the neighbor’s gay-baiting and name calling with bioterrorism.
Essentially, current policies discriminate against people living with HIV/AIDS for having consensual sex, something that would be legal for a person not living with HIV/AIDS. State laws often have the potential to punish people with no intent to transmit HIV as severely as the vanishingly few people who actually intend to transmit the disease. These laws also run counter to public health messaging because their main criteria is often simply that a person knows their status. As a result it discourages people from getting tested and disclosing their status for fear of criminal prosecution. These laws put an additional burden on people living with HIV since their status could lead to criminal charges regardless of their intent or actual transmission.
AIDS United supports the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act and encourages all to call their representatives and tell them to co-sponsor the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act.
Alternative Programming Please?
COP 24/7 has been apart a dialouge about safe spaces and alternative programming available locally and to what extent that programming fills a niche need in the city. After a few conversations, I'm happy to report that even though gay bars have been the bation of activity in the past, there are numerous "non-bar" outlets that are now poised to outreach to gay youth to the mature population. Local venue New Beginnings Church of Central Arkansas offeres Friday movie nights with popular titles such as the "Kids are Alright" offer insights and perspectives that could make for good after movie discussion. This option is free and they suggest to bring snacks and beverages to share plus your own lawn chair. The Diamond State Rodeo Association has been prompting the forming of bowling teams with most likely pursuits to creating a mini-league. DSRA sponsors a number of non-bar oriented outings including camping trips and dine outs at area restaurants. If intersted contact DSRA at www.dsra.org Center for Artistic Revolution also has advertised that their organization is supporting Adult Community Space for those in the LGBTQ community and beyond. Within the space is a forming Adult oriented library, areas for meetings, community projects, potlucks or art opportunities. To make the connection to this space contact them at 244-9690 or firstname.lastname@example.org Community Based Organization, The Living Affected Corporation has secured office space that is available for small meetings or group activity that could use a place for a working on a project. Located in the Argenta Presbyterian Church, LA Corp offers some testing at the site, AIDS 101 training and is comtemplating offering a north shore "drop in" center in the near future. At this time, hours are being revamped and a new schedule will be released shortly. If interested in the LACorp space contact, email@example.com or 877-902-7HIV. We've also learned that local water holds are also following the trend of creating community space whether their doors are open to the public or not. Both Sidetracks in North Little Rock and 610 on Center have been courting local groups to use their facilities for special events, meetings and organizational activities.These venues could be a low cost - no cost option for your next fundraising or group meeting. Contact each entity directly for detailed information and don't forget to tell the you heard about it here!
Lucie's Place Board announces
Organizers for the Lucie Place Project has been steadfast in their efforts to pull together the nuts and bolts of the long range planning for the planned facilitiy to offer housing options for displaced LGBTQ youth in Arkansas.
They will be having a HUGE Rummage Sale October 14th & 15th 8AM - ?PM at Pulaski Heights Christian Church and encourages everyone to be there! PHCC can be found at 4724 Hillcrest Avenue in Little Rock and more information can be found on the Facebook Event page, here:
According to P.Poppers, If you have anything you would like to donate, please contact the group for directions or insturctions on the process. The group has decided to put a hold on the community meetings until further notice. They are still hard at work preparing to file for incorporation and apply for tax-exempt status. While this is a very important step for Lucie's Place, they felt that it wasn't interesting for the general public, so for now all updates will be via the Internet. Penelope also noted that they will do a better job sending out these updates to ensure transparency. Please let them know if you ever have any questions, comments or concerns!
The group reports that they have already started getting calls from young adults who are either currently facing homeless or are near homeless. Board conversations have resulted about how to handle these calls. At this time they are still figuring out the logistics of a few solutions, however would like to launch a community call to action. If you know of any hotel or motel in Central Arkansas that is either known to be friendly to LGBTQ people, or LGBTQ owned, please let them know or you can share it with this forum. They would appreciate it if you asked around your network to see if anyone you know has any ideas, prospects, in-kind offerings or sponsorships.