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Nov20

Think Twice: The Toronto gay community speaks out about HIV criminalization

Thursday, 20 November 2014 Written by // John McCullagh - Publisher Categories // Social Media, Activism, Gay Men, Legal, Living with HIV, Media, Population Specific , Sex and Sexuality , John McCullagh

In a new YouTube campaign, 42 Toronto gay community members and allies say why going to the cops when a sex partner hasn’t disclosed his HIV-positive status won't stop him from getting HIV or stop the spread of the disease

Think Twice: The Toronto gay community speaks out about HIV criminalization

Canada is a world leader in targeting and criminalizing people living with HIV (PLHIV). People are being charged with aggravated sexual assault and thrown in prison for not disclosing their status, even when there was virtually no risk of transmission. Our laws are based on stigma and fear. 

“Think Twice” is a campaign by the Toronto-based activist organization AIDS Action Now!  to decrease the number of PLHIV in Ontario facing criminal prosecutions for HIV non-disclosure. 

The first part of the campaign targeted Crown prosecutors. PLHIV and their allies demonstrated in front of the offices of the Ministry of the Attorney General and sent out letters and hundreds of signed postcards to the Attorney General and Crown prosecutors urging them to Think Twice before prosecuting. They asked them to consider whether the public and justice are really served by piling on charges, going ahead with prosecutions where there is no real risk of transmission and vilifying PLHIV in the media. 

In the second part of the campaign, AIDS Action Now! asked over 40 members and allies of Toronto’s gay community to answer this question: In 45 seconds, what would you say to gay men to convince them to Think Twice before going to the police when a sex partner hasn’t disclosed to them? 

A wide range of people answered the call and delivered their video messages to gay men why going to the cops when a sexual partner has not disclosed their HIV-positive status isn’t a smart choice. 

The videos were launched at a public event in Toronto this past Tuesday. They can be viewed at http://www.thinktwicehiv.com/. They are powerful messages. Please pass the word on to your friends, family members, co-workers and others in your social networks. Link to the website on Twitter and post details on Facebook. We — people living with HIV, our sex partners, police, Crown prosecutors, health care providers and others — need to get people thinking about the complexity and uncertainty of HIV criminalization and the implications of our role in criminal prosecution for HIV non-disclosure.  

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