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Anti-prostitution pledge for AIDS groups nixed

Supreme Court, gay news, Washington Blade

 (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional this week a Bush-era law that compelled AIDS services organizations to sign a pledge opposing prostitution and human trafficking in order to receive funding for international work.

In a 6-2 decision, the majority opinion, authored by Justice Roberts, said the federal government violated the First Amendment in forcing organizations to sign the pledge as a condition of funding, according to NBC News.

“According to UNAIDS, sex workers are roughly eight times more likely to be infected with HIV than other adults,” read a statement from AIDS services organization amFAR, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the suit. “However, targeted efforts to provide HIV prevention services for sex workers have been shown to help bring national epidemics under control.


Year in review: D.C. hosts International AIDS Conference

Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Uganda

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored Ugandan human rights advocates at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

More than 30,000 people from around the world gathered at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. in July for the International AIDS Conference.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, former First Lady Laura Bush, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.,) Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, “The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg and gay singer Elton John were among the politicians, public health officials and others who spoke during the gathering that took place in the United States for the first time since San Francisco hosted it in 1990. (President Obama in 2009 completed the process that lifted the ban on people with HIV/AIDS from entering the country.)

Mayor Vincent Gray and other D.C. officials used the conference to highlight the city’s ongoing efforts to curb the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the nation’s capital. The NAMES Project showcased tens of thousands of panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt throughout the metropolitan area in July, while the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and other HIV/AIDS service providers protested what they contend is a lack of commitment from the White House and other American politicians to combat the epidemic. U.S. Park Service police arrested Housing Works President Charles King and 12 others who tried to tie red ribbons, condoms and other items to the White House fence following a protest in Lafayette Park.

The 20th International AIDS Conference is scheduled to take place in Melbourne, Australia, in July 2014.