AIDS 2014: Mobilisation march brings city to a standstill
Melbourne’s main streets became a sea of people and signs calling for an end to criminalisation of HIV transmission, equal rights for people living with HIV and AIDS and women’s and sex worker’s rights.
The protest mobilised members of the LGBTI community and advocates for people living with HIV, as they marched on Federation Square ahead of the Candlelight Vigil.
“We’re here to say no to the anti-LGBT laws that are populating everywhere – Nigeria Uganda – Russia. We see our friends and family being killed, jailed and criminalised for something we have no control over.
"Proper attention needs to be paid to our trans women and stop grouping them with gay men.
"We deserve respect, we all deserve respect. Stop criminalising sex workers, stop criminalising drug users, we are all human. Stop making millions off of our lives. Lower your prices for medication. We need more love in our community. We need everyone to keep fighting until this is actually over. Until then we’re going to make noise in the streets,” said one protestor from the US. “Act up! Fight back! Fight AIDS!
Rallying the crowd together ahead of the mobilisation march, Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) executive officer Simon Ruth said:
“The VAC has been campaigning for the rights of people with HIV for 31 years. And I think we’ve had it pretty lucky hear in Victoria. I’ve heard some stories in the past week that are appalling. But we still have policies in this state that are driven by fear.
"Homophobia, transphobia, whorephobia and fear of pleasure. Sex workers, drug workers, asylum seekers, our first people, people living with HIV still face discrimination. But we can change this by working together. Together we are stronger and we can end discrimination and end HIV. We’ve been calling this a mobilisation march but it’s a protest really – so it’s time now to go and protest!”
The march brought the Melbourne CBD to a standstill as the protestors charted a course from the Convention Centre down Flinders Street to Federation Square.