Title: Law Reform, AIDS and the Christian Right Credit: Craig Young Comment Monday 10th July 2006 - 12:00pm1152489600 Article: 1332 Rights
It's the most repulsive aspect of the Christian Right's crusade against homosexual law reform - in which it deliberately sought to spread misinformation about HIV/AIDS and victimise the ill and dying. In the eighties, HIV/AIDS served asa backdrop to the impending decriminalisation of male homosexuality. As Warren Lindberg noted when he reflected on that period a decade later, the gay community had organised self-help networks for gay men affected by the emergence and progress of the epidemic, but there needed to be particular changes made to impede its spread- the decriminalisation of male homosexuality and implementation of anti-discrimination laws. Fran Wilde's efforts were timely and welcome, but no-one realised what depths the New Zealand Christian Right would sink to against our communities, even if it meant victimising the ill and dying. It meant importing material from the US Christian Right, a point that often needs to be made when considering that period of New Zealand lesbian and gay history. It wasn't just money and organisational assistance that the Coalition of Concerned Citizens, Reformed Churches and collaborators received, it was misinformation resources as well. Such as? Homosexual Law Reform Anniversary feature stories have mentioned Paul Cameron, but there were others. Gene Antonio, Lorraine Day and Australian Howard Carter all produced propaganda that contained lies like the casual transmission of HIV/AIDS from toilet seats and mosquito bites. They also lied about the efficacy of condoms as a protective barrier against infection; logically enough, as Antonio's first book on the subject was published by Ignatius Press, a conservative Catholic publisher. As for Lorraine Day, she was mired in the discourse of conspiracy theory, as can be noted from the subtitle of her book ("What the Government Isn't Telling You.") I often wonder if our community realises that the so-called alternative 'health' movement containes extreme right wing elements who distrust mainstream medical practitioners. According to her, there was an almighty conspiracy between national governments and mainstream medical practitioners against the 'truth' about casual contact transmission. Antonio, Cameron and Day all urged quarantine for People Living With AIDS, disparaged safe sex and their New Zealand acolytes imported and sold these treatises in fundamentalist bookstores. Happily, though, the gay community prevailed, primarily because it had made a strategic alliance with medical practitioners at the beginning of the epidemic, and Paul Goldwater's book circulated in more mainstream settings than the fundamentalist community, even if the likes of C.James Bacon did incorporate them into their submissions. And so, it almost ended. Except it didn't, quite. Howard Carter collected his mendacious diatribes into a booklet and sent it to New Zealand during the period leading up to the New Zealand General Election in 1987. Shortly after, this sterling advocate of family values 'fell from grace' when it was found that the Queensland-based bigot was bonking his secretary Paul Cameron collected his work into a slender volume, but couldn't get anyone other than conspiracy publishers Huntington House to approach it. Do people still read this nonsense? Apparently, they do in Australia, as I found reference to these publications in Fred Niles' autobiography from New South Wales, and also noticed that the League of Rights still distributes them from its "Morality and Ethics" section online. Thankfully, their desperate gambit failed, and they had to pay the price in public revulsion for their opportunism. Recommended: Paul Goldwater: AIDS: The Risk in New Zealand: Auckland: Penguin: 1986 Warren Lindbergh: "The Gay Community and AIDS" in P.Davis (ed) Intimate Details and Vital Statistics: Auckland: Auckland University Press: 1986. Definitely Not Recommended: Gene Antonio: The AIDS Cover Up: San Francisco: Ignatius Press: 1986. Paul Cameron: Exposing the AIDS Scandal: Lafayette: Huntington House: 1988. Howard Carter: AIDS: The Plague to End All Plagues: Blackheath: Logos Forum: 1987. Lorraine Day: AIDS: What the Government Isn't Telling You: Palm Desert: Rcokford Press: 1986. Stanley Monteith: AIDS: The Unneccessary Epidemic: Sevierville: Covenant House: 1991. Fred Nile: AIDS- The Gay Plague: Sydney: Call to Australia: 1984 Fred Nile: An Autobiography: Ballarat: Strand: 2001. The Australian (and New Zealand) League of Rights Craig Young - 10th July 2006    
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