Seven naked protesters occupied one of House speaker John Boehner’s offices this morning, demanding that budgets for AIDS-related programs not be cut, and three were arrested.
Boehner was not present at the office in the Longworth House Office building in Washington, D.C., as he generally uses an office suite in the Capitol, across the street. However, several aides were there as the protesters stripped to reveal slogans painted on their bodies, such as “AIDS Cuts Kill” and “Fund PEPFAR, Fund Ryan White, Fund Global Fund, Fund Medicaid, Fund HOPWA.” The activists represented Queerocracy, ACT UP New York, and ACT UP Philadelphia.
The protest came as President Obama and congressional leaders are engaged in budget negotiations, with both tax increases and spending cuts on the table. Eustachia Smith of ACT UP New York said in a press release that if proposed cuts go through, “global health programs will lose $689 million, while domestic AIDS programs will lose $538 million.”
Added Cassie Gardner of Queerocracy: “When you strip away the rhetoric of the fiscal cliff and the grand bargain, you see that these terms are a way to thinly veil draconian budget cuts that will leave millions around the world with absolutely nothing.”
They also noted that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled Thursday to release a global plan for ending AIDS, but the proposed cuts would make it “nearly impossible” to stop the pandemic. On Saturday, World AIDS Day, hundreds of AIDS activists are expected to march on Washington in hopes of preventing the cuts.
A Capitol Police spokesman told ABC News that three women protesters were arrested on charges of “lewd and indecent acts.” It was unclear why the other four demonstrators, all men, were not.