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Sponsor: Poor judgement by OutTakes

Mon 29 May 2006 In: New Zealand Daily News

Noon: The New Zealand AIDS Foundation, principal sponsor of this year's OutTakes gay film festival, has slammed the festival for offering a membership incentive prize which is not accessible to people with HIV and for not allowing the Foundation to speak about HIV at the festival's Auckland launch, and indicates it may not sponsor OutTakes in future. Fiji, like a number of other countries including the USA, has an immigration and visitor policy which excludes HIV positive people. Additionally Fiji imprisons people found ‘guilty' of having gay sex. "Given Fiji's appalling record on human rights, not just against gay men but also amongst people affected by HIV, I would have thought the organisers would have exercised better judgement around having a prize like this," says the Foundation's chair Jeremy Lambert. Body Positive Auckland, the advocacy and support group for HIV positive people, has called the prize "inappropriate" and OutTakes acknowledges that some of its own members have questioned the prize. The AIDS Foundation has also attacked OutTakes for not allowing it to speak about HIV at its Auckland launch on Thursday night. Infections occurring within relationships are emerging as a significant factor in the soaring HIV epidemic amongst gay men and the Foundation says it had hoped to address the facts of this issue to Festival-goers. The opening night featured the Foundation's newly launched Love is... cinema commercial campaign targeting gay men in relationships. "There is only so much you can communicate in a one minute cinema advertisement and there are things that wouldn't work in that sort of creative execution," says Lambert. "Stuff like the raw statistics that up to a third of new infections are men in relationships, that just on half of gay men aren't using, or rarely use, condoms within relationships, the fact that 55% are having sex outside the relationship... they are the sorts of statistics that don't work so well within an advertisement." Lambert says the Foundation would have gladly taken the opportunity to speak, had it been available. "The festival attracts gay men in relationships. We have expressed our disappointment to OutTakes at being denied this opportunity to speak to them." The Foundation believes its $8,000 sponsorship investment in OutTakes was "money well spent this year," but says it may find an alternative platform in the future. Despite several requests for official comment from OutTakes, no spokesperson has emerged from the organisation to formally address the mounting concerns. In a statement posted on the OutTakes website the organisation acknowledges that Reel Queer, which rebranded the festival this year to be "more inclusive," has also taken flack from some of its own members. It says avoiding Fiji would "not serve to advance the very important cause of equality and freedom from persecution."    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Monday, 29th May 2006 - 12:00pm

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