At the International Conference on AIDS (#AIDS2018), the dating app Hornet took a stand with a sexy and provocative campaign.
Hornet’s Alex Garner was a key speaker at a panel on the de-criminalization of LGBT sex. The press conference was called as a way to draw attention to the intersecting issues of LGBT criminalization and the efforts to end the HIV epidemic. In many parts of the world LGBT stigma drives HIV legislation and that’s a huge problem.
“Laws that criminalize gay sex/sodomy/buggery whatever you want to call it prevents men from accessing testing, treatment and prevention services and leaves gay men vulnerable to harassment, extortion, and violence. Not to mention all of the complex stigma and discrimination that accompanies being viewed by the state as a criminal. Gay men are one of the most disproportionately impacted groups by HIV and we cannot end the epidemic as long as gay men are criminalized. We certainly will not be able to reach the UN's 90-90-90 goals while these anti-LGBT laws exist.” Says Garner.
Garner thinks decriminalizing LGBT sex should be of paramount importance in the strategy to end the HIV epidemic. “It is one's basic human right to be able to decide what to do with one's one body. That includes being able to pursue a fulfilling sexuality and to be able to fully and freely express oneself. These laws leave LGBT people vulnerable to discrimination and violence from the community, as well as arrest torture, and in some countries murder, at the hands of the state. When LGBT people are criminalized it prevents them from being able to fully participate in society and their community and it also takes an enormous toll on ones’ physical and emotional health. Hornet's campaign is about raising awareness to these laws but the long term goal is not just about abolishing these laws but ensuring the health and safety of LGBT all around the world.”
Garner concludes Homophobia has been the greatest driver of this epidemic. “It comes about around two key issues — the value of LGBT lives, and sex. Many countries and communities have refused to acknowledge that value of LGBT people's lives and that allows them to treat us inhumanely. Secondly, gay sex is central to this issue and people are still uncomfortable talking about that. Many LGBT people are still uncomfortable talking about sex and that is often used against us. We cannot shy away from talking about gay sex as it is nothing to be ashamed of. These laws are very specifically about sex. While the marriage equality movement may have shown as that love wins, sex continues to lose. No one ever passed a law preventing us from loving one another but that have passed dozens of laws trying to prevent us from fucking one another. Sex is fundamental to who we are. It is intimate, personal, and pleasurable and it must be empowered and unashamed about our sexuality.”