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Ottawa gay charities turn down police fundraiser cash, citing HIV crim debacle


Ottawa gay charities turn down police fundraiser cash, citing HIV crim debacle

'This is not an indictment against the liaison committee per se': Jay Koornstra
Two Pride Week events that feature members of the Ottawa Police Services (OPS) are developing into sites of protest, following the police’s treatment of an HIV-nondisclosure case in Ottawa.

The events in question are the OPS pancake breakfast, which is sponsored by the Police Liaison Committee, and the Human Rights Vigil, where a representative of the OPS hate crimes unit is rumoured to be a speaker.

Late last month, Ottawa’s police services board virtually ignored a proposal supported by several queer groups to develop guidelines for prosecution for HIV-nondisclosure cases, a move Brent Bauer of the Gay Men’s Wellness Initiative called “an act of cowardice.”

The liaison committee had planned to donate all proceeds from the pancake breakfast to three organizations: Capital Pride, the Ten Oaks Project and AIDS Walk for Life.

But Capital Pride is, for now, the sole recipient of those funds. Both of the other recipients pulled their support last week, citing the same concerns Bauer had with the relationship between the cops and the queer community.

Lee Rose, the vice-president of the board at the Ten Oaks Project, said the controversy has made the relationship between the police, the liaison committee and the community “fragile.”

“The committee right now is at a crossroads,” he said. “We think that the community must be engaged to rebuild the committee so that it may fulfill its vital and important mandate in the community.”

The Ten Oaks Project’s board has not taken a position on the criminalization of HIV, says Rose.

“It’s really the … lack of communication between the community and the committee,” he said.

Jay Koornstra, the executive director of Bruce House – the lead agency of the AIDS Walk for Life – expressed similar concerns as Bauer and Rose. And he said he wants to open lines of communication, not shut them down.

“This is not an indictment against the liaison committee, per se,” he said. “This is not burning any bridges. This will hopefully further encourage greater dialogue.”

That dialogue seems to already be in the works. Rose said Staff Sgt John Medeiros, Ottawa’s police diversity officer, reached out to and met with the Ten Oaks Project after hearing about its decision to pull out of the pancake breakfast.

“The meeting was good. It was a first step,” he said. “[Medeiros] informed me that the police are taking the issue seriously … There was recognition that there were some errors made.”

Medeiros told Xtra that the police have assembled a Critical Incident Critical Situation team, which they do from time to time when serious disruptions in community relations occur. He said it was formed on Aug 18 and is developing its strategy.

Medeiros plans to meet one on one with several agencies and organizations that are upset with how police have dealt with the HIV criminalization issue.

“There will be other incidents that occur,” he said. “It’s so important that we as a police agency and community members, when these situations occur, walk towards one another and engage in dialogue.“

Meanwhile, in an Aug 26 email to Capital Pride chair Doug Saunders-Riggins, Bauer expressed the concerns his group had with a police officer attending a Pride Week human rights vigil.

“On the 25th anniversary of Capital Pride, do we really want to give a platform to the one organization in town that has undertaken the most offensive and egregious human rights violations against our communities in recent memory?” he asked.

Bauer pledged to work with police in the future, but only on certain terms.

“We will continue to petition for a process to encourage OPS to entertain open consultations that will actually promote a safer and healthier community rather than the harmful, punitive and misinformed application of criminal charges as currently exists in our community,” he wrote.

Marion Steele, the co-chair of the liaison committee, was frustrated by the two groups’ decision not to participate in the pancake breakfast.

“We’re disappointed that they’re withdrawing. We certainly would have liked to have seen some of the proceeds go to them,” she said, adding that the proceeds numbered in the hundreds of dollars.

Steele added that she understood the concerns being raised, but offered a different solution.

“Our community is famous for standing together, so I can understand it from that point of view,” she said. “As an activist, to me it’s not about boycotting and not showing up. If anything, show up and tell us what it is that you need. We are the police liaison committee. We are not the Ottawa police.”

Steele said the liaison committee will look for other recipients of the pancake breakfast proceeds.

UPDATE: Capital Pride announced Aug 20 that the two events "will be run in partnership with Ottawa Police Services, despite ongoing controversy within the community."

“As an HIV-positive man, I think this issue needs to be better understood by the community, and the Capital Pride Human Rights Vigil is one place where this can happen,” writes Tory Saunders-Riggins, community relations director for Capital Pride and organizer of the vigil. “The first step in this process is education and discussion on the topic of HIV criminalization and the stigma of being HIV-positive.”

Capital Pride also announced its lineup for the Human Rights Vigil: Helen Kennedy of Egale Canada, John Byers of the Ottawa Police Services Hate Crimes Unit and David Hoe of the AIDS Committee of Ottawa.
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An Act of Cowardice????
Brent Bauer should fall on his sword.

I think a more blatant example of an act of cowardice is to knowingly put someone at risk of the same infection you have without disclosing to them that the possiblity was there.

Shame on you all who defend this behavior.

This very thing is why we're still compared to pedofiles. If I weren't deeply involved in the gay community, I'd think you were all freaks from reading this stuff.

Using thier logic, just because I own a gun, I should be allowed to shoot you in the forehead because I tell you it's unloaded. I own a bottle of antifreeze, so I serve you up a cocktail and tell you it's a martini.

Seriously. Brent and his friends are the cowards. It's so easy to stand up and yell instead of looking deep inside and accepting personal responsibility for your own actions. Shame.
Not Self-Hatred, Rather Honesty
I do not see being honest about how HIV is transmitted in the gay community as being self-loathing or self-hating; rather, I see it as honest and realistic. I genuinely feel that the police acted in accordance with the present laws, and that, if the situation were heterosexual in nature, the police would have made the same steps.
is there anything worse than self-hating homo's?

As long as the HIV / GAY community accepts organizations such as HALCO (HIV Legal Clinic) who supports the criminalization of HIV, (how FU is that?)and the personnel that infect such organizations and their supporters ...well, what is there to say?

HIV isn't a criminal
I take issue with the phrase "criminalization of HIV". I think people are charging an issue that really should be fairly black and white. HIV and having HIV is not a crime. To force HIV on another person through willful action and intentional deception is a crime and so it should be. Just as if I tricked a person into drinking a glass of poison by telling them the drink is water, tricking a person to sex by saying they are HIV- takes away the ability for the other party to consent to the situation they are being put in. The HIV+ community does need to be vigilant and the GLTBQ community should stand by and support a similar fight going on to prevent the slippery slope that may come out of cases like this. That being said, we are not sliding down the slippery slope. The law in fact is drawing some clear lines so everyone knows what behaviour is acceptable and what behaviour is not. I can not accept any argument that concludes that it is ok to trick another person into a dangerous situation without them knowing what they are getting into.
Police Treated This Case The Same As Many Others
I do not think this is a gay issue. This is a HIV positive issue. That distinction needs to be made more clear. There are plenty of examples across Canada where police released the name and photo of someone who stood accused of knowingly spreading HIV. Cases in point are Trevis Smith of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Carl Leone of Windsor, ON, and Adam Rollo of North Vancouver, BC. All three suspects are accused of knowingly having heterosexual sex after being told they were HIV positive and to have protected sex and inform sex partners.

My point is that this shouldn't be associated in anyway shape or form with gay charities. Since when has HIV become a "gay fight". If we concede that it is a gay fight, all we do is reinforce the stereotype that HIV/AIDS is a "gay disease".

Brent Bauer doesn't speak for the whole gay community. None of the heads of these groups do. Not everyone in the gay community is afflicted with HIV, please do not try to speak for us. I have found Xtra's coverage of these events very one sided. What about the rights of the HIV negative party to informed consent? Informed consent trumps privacy in my opinion.
Double speak contd
to continue my letter to Capital Pride

To imagine someone is being charged with attempted murder in 2010, while we in the western world now anticipate that life with HIV with appropriate treatment is at least 40 years and being extended with each new frontier in treatment, makes no sense to me.

I am of the opinion that the law is wrong and its use is guided by moral positions. We in the queer community and our allies have a long history of fighting laws that are wrong and the prejudice held by its implementers.

To think that Capital Pride - using the term "Pride", can nurture a relationship with an organization (Ottawa Police Services) which is committed to furtherance of sexual predatory terminology and policy, is to denounce the Pride I believe we seek as a community. This includes people living with HIV and at risk to HIV. HIV cannot be fought in an environment of oppression and fear, for that is where the virus is most easily at home.

HIV infections in Ottawa are unfortunately, not diminishing. If we wish to see that happen, then it can only be with a base of Health and Human Rights. This does not include a police force that overtakes Health and Human Rights and replaces it with criminality and sensational publicity as well as a refusal to work with communities to establish a better way.

I urge you to reconsider your position and demonstrate leadership by denouncing the policy and practices of the Ottawa Police Services in regards to HIV transmission, and its commitment to the use of discriminatory language and exposure, and to state your support for a health and human rights base in responding to HIV - an epidemic in Ottawa still largely impacting gay men. This would include a statement to the OPS in these terms accompanied by a withdrawal of the invitation to OPS to speak at the vigil honouring Human Rights next Thursday evening

In closing, I would like to confirm my offer to work with you in developing a position for Capital Pride on Human
Police, HIV, Human Rights Double Speak
Dear Tory and Brodie, (of the Board of Capital Pride)

Thank you for listening to myself and Brent Bauer tonight on why a representative from The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) speaking on Human Rights is so contradictory to their actions on dealing with potential HIV transmission.

Health and Human Rights is the core of effective responses to the HIV epidemic globally and locally. A criminal law response has set us back decades, and while seemingly drawing a line in the sand between right and wrong, only provides a moral position and bears no resemblance at all to assist those of us with HIV infection to handle our lives. Nor, does it create a community better able to handle HIV prevention.

There are multiple discourses underway on this issue and much research being undertaken to examine how communities may handle HIV transmission in the face of the current criminalization of HIV. All of them around the globe underscore the need for a base in human rights.

The Capital Pride event celebrating Human Rights next Thursday evening needs to hold Human Rights in a high place. At the centre of the queer community over the last 40 years or so, has been our struggle to establish our right to full citizenship, without prejudice. Twenty Five years of work in Ottawa, in large part, has been led by the rights of women and the rights of gay men in the face of HIV. In all senses the thrust has been to remove oppression of any kind. In fact, it was this fight that led to the construction of the Human Rights Memorial on Elgin Street.

To think the Ottawa police can hold a position that someone struggling with the management of HIV over a lifetime should be advertised in the media and named a "sexual predator", and at the same time offer up a speaker on human rights is enraging to me. How can you abuse Human Rights and then stand up and speak as though it is one of your values? I recognize that the law is in place giving the police and the crown a basis for criminal charges,
Ottawa Police - Friends?
I have now moved to Toronto from Ottawa last year. We have a slightly better police force here than Ottawa which police which is disliked by all citizens ( except their Little women).
The police here tried to break into my apt last week looking for some bum. They bang at the door and pretend to be some drug dealer saying "let me in".
Who would these people's money! Wait till it happens to you
A servie to whom?
It baffles me that Brent Bauer has put these charities in this position. Rather than use this opportunity and this forum to voice his discontent with the Ottawa Police (and his agrument is suppporeted by many in the community)he has punished the Ottawa Police Liaison Committee, Ten Oaks, Bruce House and the LGBT Community.
I want to hear agruments from Brent openly. I do not want to hear him rant to a one sided media circus but rather stand up and speak for us Brent.
Brent you represent a community who is trying to mend a terrible wound with the Ottawa Police but now you won't even take advantage of speaking about it in public and on the same stage as the Ottawa Police?
Capital Xtra does no service to the community except divide it. Their sole interest is sales.
Brent reach out to the people and properly use the venues Capital Pride has given you to speak up in the right way. Don't take part in burning the bridge with the Ottawa Police. Put the fire out.
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