Volunteer with BPPP: 2014 International AIDS Conference Awareness

BPPP is looking for a volunteer to help us get the word out to our US sex worker rights and other networks about the July 2014 international AIDS Conference that will be held in Melbourne Australia. The volunteer will create a series of short community friendly announcements about key conference deadlines coming up between December 2013 and early March 2014 and get the message out to folks in the US about how they can participate in the conference. The volunteer will also be involved reaching out to our sister organizations in Australia to make sure that our community outreach is in line with what they are organizing. This volunteering would require about one hour a week December to early March. BPPP can provide support for childcare, local transportation, phone/communication and other similar expenses relating to the tasks. If interested please send a short email to bestpracticespolicyproject @ gmail.com. This volunteer search is open only until we find the right person. Ability to write in Spanish a plus but not required.

Making history for sex workers’ health and rights

Grassroots, long-term, coalition work gets the job done — the New York State General Assembly passed the No Condoms as Evidence bill yesterday. Here’s the press release from the coalition:


Anti-Trafficking Advocates, Women’s Groups, LGBTQ Organizations, Public Health Advocates And Civil Rights Groups Hail Passage of Critical Public Health Measure and Urge Senate to Take Action.

FRIDAY, June 20, 2013 (NEW YORK) – Today the New York State Assembly passed A2736, known as the “No Condoms as Evidence” bill, sponsored by Queens Assembly Member Barbara Clark.

“Today’s action by the New York State Assembly brings us one step closer to making history as the first state in the country to enact legislation that prohibits police and prosecutors from confiscating and introducing condoms as evidence of intent to engage in prostitution-related offenses,” said Andrea Ritchie on behalf of the No Condoms as Evidence Coalition, made up of over 70 organizations advocating for the bill’s passage. “We want to extend our sincere thanks to Assembly Member Barbara Clark and Speaker Sheldon Silver for showing leadership in putting public health first. We call on New York State Senators who care about public health, sex trafficking, stop and frisk, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and human and civil rights to follow suit after the session break.”

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Striking Anti-Prostitution Pledge is an Important, but Only Partial, Victory

Ending a ten year saga, the US Supreme Court today struck down a section of the Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act that restricts government HIV/AIDS funding from groups that do not take an explicit stance in opposition to prostitution. The so-called “anti-prostitution loyalty oath” was challenged by non-governmental organizations based in the United States soon after the passage of the Leadership Act in 2003 – and the Court’s finding that the oath violated those groups’ First Amendment rights is welcome. But it is not enough, because the decision does nothing for groups that are not based in the US, including those best-positioned to fight the epidemic because of their local and grassroots nature. The First Amendment does not extend to them, meaning they are still subject to the oath’s requirements. The Leadership Act – which created the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR – is up for re-authorization this year and the Obama administration should work with Congress to remove the oath once and for all.

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Supporting Brazilian sex workers

Sex workers in Brazil are challenging the Brazilian government’s decision in early June 2013 to first veto and then drastically alter an HIV prevention campaign that had been developed by the Department of STD/AIDS/Ministry of Health in partnership with sex workers earlier this year. After abruptly ordering the rights based materials to be taken offline the government relaunched the campaign with sanitized and adulterated materials several days later. The government  removed slogans about rights, citizenship, and positive affirmations of the profession from all campaign materials replacing them with fear based messages such as, “AIDS still has no cure.”

Sex workers in Brazil have released statements critisizing the government’s actions both as separate NGOs and in a powerful joint statement from the Brazilian Network of Prostitutes. Davida’s newspaper, Beijo da Rua, has reported that the sex workers that appeared in the campaign are sending cease and desist letters to the Ministry of Health revoking their releases for using their images and demanding the immediate suspension of the campaign materials in which they appear. The Ministry has now taken the campaign offline, and the fight continues to request that the Minister be forced to resign, and demand that prostitutes’ voices be heard and respected.

International pressure is incredibly important and effective in swaying political decisions. Activists and allies around the world can help support Brazilian sex workers actions:

Equal rights for all professions!

Equal rights for all professions!