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Local groups ramp up activism ahead of Pride


Local groups ramp up activism ahead of Pride

June 21 candlelight vigil will kick off series of demonstrations
Ahead of Toronto Pride Week, AIDS Action Now (AAN) is calling on Crown prosecutors to think twice before proceeding with HIV-nondisclosure criminal cases. 

In a half-page ad in this week’s edition of the Ontario Reports, a weekly publication sent to Ontario lawyers, the group urges prosecutors to give the issue more thought, noting, "Prosecutions for HIV non-disclosure must be based on complete and accurate scientific and medical evidence, not preconceptions, fear or prejudice." 

The $1,500 ad was paid for by an anonymous donor, says AAN's Glenn Betteridge. Ontario Reports includes important cases, announcements and practice directions to lawyers from courts and ministries. 

In a separate press statement, AAN states that Crown prosecutors play a pivotal role in the criminal justice system, deciding whether or not to proceed with criminal charges.

“AIDS Action Now is challenging Crown Prosecutors and the legal community to change the way they think about HIV non-disclosure cases,” the release states. “Our ultimate goal is to reduce the number of HIV non-disclosure criminal prosecutions as a way to promote the health and rights of people living with HIV.”

The ad is one of several actions planned by queer groups this Pride season. Activists hope to keep the focus on a number of issues affecting queer Canadians, including Bill C-31, which would reform federal refugee laws; sex worker rights; attacks on queer and trans people; bullying; safe and affordable housing; and trans rights. But as always, HIV criminalization remains a top priority, says AAN's Jordan Bond-Gorr.

“There’s enough that we can say, ‘Queers are still dying. Queer lives are still impacted by our government, by corporations, by society,'” he says. “So this year we felt we wanted to bring attention to a number of different issues throughout the course of the week.”

Bond-Gorr says Queers for Social Justice, a coalition of several local activist groups, is planning three die-in demonstrations during Pride Week. The first will be at the flag-raising ceremony, Pride's official kickoff at Toronto City Hall, on June 25 at 11:30am.

The die-in at city hall has a lot of symbolism,” Bond-Gorr says. “We have a mayor that has had a very contentious relationship with the queer community. The budget cuts, which we fought hard against this year, are an example of austerity measures that governments are pushing which have negative impacts on queers.”

Queers for Social Justice are also the organizers of the upcoming night march, on June 25 at 8:30pm, at Nathan Phillips Square.

The second die-in is planned for June 28 at 6pm at the corner of Church and Wellesley streets. Queers for Social Justice hopes the streets will be filled with Pride party revellers who will take a moment to stop and watch.

“People are out on the street, having a beer. The goal is not to bring the message in a heavy-handed way,” Bond-Gorr says. “We want to have some fun and theatricality with it.”

The third will take place during the Dyke March on June 30. The Dyke March is traditionally very political, with people making statements on many of the same issues, Bond-Gorr says.

“We will have a contingent in the Dyke March, and the die-in will be during the march,” he says. “We want to be a theatrical presence. Pride’s theme this year is ‘celebrate and demonstrate.’ So we really highlight the demonstrate aspect.”

The official start of Pride is June 25, but the season really begins, on a serious note, with the annual AIDS Candlelight Vigil in Cawthra Park, behind the 519 Community Centre, June 21 at 9pm. This year, Angela Robertson, from Black CAP, and Mark Fisher, from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network, will host.

The vigil honours, remembers and celebrates the lives of people who have died of AIDS and recognizes all those affected by, and living with, HIV/AIDS. Each year, people gather around the AIDS Memorial, where the names of more than 2,500 people are inscribed. The names of those added over the past year are read aloud.
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of course we wouldn't be here if the AID$ organizations hadn't supported Criminalization of HIV in the first place, including HALCO, who had a board member resign over the issue and EVERY OTHER LEGAL and AIDS Service Organization in the country. This nasty reprehensible group of people are much more concerned with their social status and paying off their mortgage, than the clients they are supposed to be advocating for.............................ALL OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS SUPPORTED the CRIMINALIZATION OF HIV. THAT IS WHY WE ARE HERE! Do some research people.Aids Action Now has their head up their ass. They are protesting the wrong people. The ENEMY is WITHIN!
non disclosure
This is an important and controversial issue. It is issues like this that can set our acceptance of the larger society on edge. We are still and will always be percieved as a population (sub culture) interested in only our own sexuality at any cost to another. Media has painted us for generations as troubled people. I believe this will prevail behind the scenes.
awareness is everything
I hope this group makes a big enough impact to take the attention away from the desparate LGBT Jewish community that has brought in a large Pro Israeli contingent buying booths to promote Synagogues that have a Pro Israeli agenda. They are strategically attempting to take the attention from other important causes. Generating memberships rather then taking a stand for the Many LGBT causes. They are stating they are Not affiliated with Kulanu, however they are Partners in events and give money to Kulanu. New Jewish synagogues who are gay friendly with Pro Israeli Agenda has partnered up with Kulanu, and Apple holding events to support her by spreading out under different names. They decided they too will capatilze on the Parade if QuAIA can as well. Thanks Andrea for informing us about important activism by passionate LGBT who stand for Positive political change.
QuAIA lurks beneath it all
The so-called Queers for Social Justice is just another QuAIA front organization. It was set up by QuAIA supporters. In terms of the annual Candlelight AIDS Vigil on June 21, 2012, I wonder if AIDS Action Now, the Toronto PWA Foundation, and the Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE) will again sponsor a competing QuAIA event held at the same time as the AIDS vigil - like they did last year. A year ago, the competing QuAIA event was held on Thursday June 23, 2011 at 9:00 pm. See: http://queersagainstapartheid.org/2011/06/15/learning-tactics-and-strategies-with-act-up/ The 2011 annual AIDS vigil was held at exactly the same time: Thursday June 23, 2011 at 9:00 pm. See: http://www.facebook.com/events/123366487745703/ It therefore appears that AIDS Action Now, the PWA Foundation and CATIE thought it was much more important to co-sponsor and attend a QuAIA event than the AIDS vigil. This scheduling preference showed the true priorities of these leftist-controlled AIDS organizations in the LGBT community. When you sponsor a rider in the upcoming bike rally for the PWA Foundation, that is what you're supporting.
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