Thursday, 5 September 2019

Stigmatising HIV and Hepatitis isn't an Ecumenical Issue...or even a Health Issue

The resignations of my friends Jennie Rigg and Sarah Brown resigned from the Liberal Democrats over the joyful acceptance of Philip Lee into the party it gave me pause for reflection.

It wasn't that long ago that another "health issue" caused a lot of hurt here in Northern Ireland when Iris Robinson mentioned that her friendly psychiatrist could cure Northern Ireland of Sodomy it seemed. Quite rightly the Liberal Democrats were up in arms about those comments.

However, when someone's views in the past that we should stop people coming to this country who have HIV or Hepatitis, some of those same people brush it under the carpet as a health issue. Then reject the anger and hurt that is felt by LGBT+ activists and campaigners. You see many of us who are LGBT+ have been told to our faces that we have a health issue. Usually as with Iris Robinson this is referring to our mental health. People have told us there is a cure, some of us even have tried the so called "cure" so know even more how much this hurts.

Refusing people entry to this country because they have HIV or Hepatitis is a mixture of Homophobia and Xenophobia. It is based on ignorance like in the 1980s that these are just gay diseases. It ignores the many millions from Sub Sahara Africa who have been infected by their partners or parents. It legitimises a certain amount of asylum refusal, in much the same way that many LBGT+ asylum seekers have been turned away by the Border Force for not being stereotypically "gay" enough to warrant asylum.

CIS, straight people telling LGBT+ people that they shouldn't be offended. That our lose would be unfortunate is stirring a pot that should not be stirred. We can feel this oppression because we still face it ourselves. We are still anxious about public signs of affection in areas we don't know well. We have faced the name calling, we have faced the accusing looks, the ignorance, the hatred.

Unlike from Father Ted this isn't so much an Ecumenical Issue. We are a party that believes nobody should be enslaved by conformity.

When you base you standards of conformity of misguided health guidelines; without realising the fact about undetectable viral loads or the health nightmare that some of the poorest in this world face, you are not allowing everyone to achieve the best that they can be. If you do are you truly Liberal.

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