Challenging a Season of Hate in 2023

April 10, 2023

A look back at the last few weeks brings a heavy heart, and, for us at AVAC, a renewed determination to fight back against a sea of reactionary policies that jeopardize healthcare and dismantle civil liberties around the world.

As our Executive Director Mitchell Warren recently told the TheBodyPro, “This is, frankly, a global pandemic. Right-wing politics, moralizing legislatures, and moralizing judicial systems are putting people’s lives at risk.”

Extremist courts and legislatures in the US and in many other countries are pursuing laws that will, at the very least, turn back time in our progress against HIV and at worst destroy the lives of whole segments of society.

In the last two weeks alone, AVAC has had to issue three statements condemning unjust, dangerous and deeply flawed legal maneuvers.

On March 24, we condemned Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2023, a more poisonous version of a 2014 attempt to further criminalize the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s also just one of condemned Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2023 several draconian anti-gay bills sweeping across Africa and the US. As Brian Kanyemba of Advocacy for Prevention of HIV and AIDS (APHA) told TheBodyPro, it’s a “Homophobic Spring”. (Watch this space for a podcast in the coming days with stunning reports from Uganda-based advocates on the fight against Uganda’s proposed anti-homosexuality law.)

Two US court rulings have since come down, each attacking access to fundamental healthcare. On March 30th, a US federal judge in Fort Worth, Texas, struck down a section of the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance coverage for many preventive services, including HIV testing and the provision of PrEP. This ruling reinforced an earlier decision that ruled PrEP provision may violate individual religious freedom. AVAC’s statement condemned this ruling that endangers access to PrEP, as well as other life-saving prevention services.

And today, we are again condemning a court ruling from a different US federal judge, this time based in Amarillo Texas, who has issued an unprecedented preliminary injunction suspending the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone, a safe and effective abortion medication approved more than 20 years ago. If this decision is allowed to stand, it will restrict access to the most widely used method of abortion and undermine the FDA’s authority on drug regulation generally.

“This decision throws open the door to reversals of other drug approvals based on one individuals’ personal or political beliefs rather than science and evidence. It’s yet another blow in a campaign to roll back bodily autonomy and human rights and cannot be allowed to stand,” said Warren. “In solidarity, we stand with the millions of individuals and families who will be affected by this highly political decision, and we stand with science and medical evidence, which is increasingly under attack in the US.”

In what has become a season of hate, we turn our eyes to the work ahead. We call on the Biden administration to take immediate action to safeguard access to every aspect of sexual, reproductive and preventive healthcare, including PrEP, mifepristone and other abortion services. We call on political leaders and health leaders in every corner of the globe to take action in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ people to protect and expand their civil rights. When fear and reaction gather momentum, we must recommit to an advocacy agenda that champions evidence-based and science-informed policy. We must join together, with clarity and solidarity, to face down the hate and build a world for all of us that is safe, healthy and just.