Springborg savages ‘radical’ LGBTI community leaders
In an apparent bid to drive a wedge between members of the LGBTI community, Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg has claimed HIV health promoters have sold out the community.
The Courier-Mail reports today that a new study shows programs designed to encourage safe sex may have had an opposite effect.
The study states that between 2011 and 2012, the proportion of gay men having unprotected sex rose from 34.1 per cent to 39.1 per cent.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg told the newspaper the figures are evidence that community organisations, notably Healthy Communities (HC), which he defunded in May last year, had behaved like “radical lobby groups” rather than health advocates.
He said millions of dollars funded by Labor had been a “complete farce”.
“The previous Labor Government squandered the health dollar trying to buy and appease radical political lobby groups rather than investing in serious health outcomes and cultural changes,” Springborg said.
“It means that the so-called gay community leaders that championed these campaigns have completely sold out the people they claim to represent.”
In response, HC said the Minister had a simplistic view of HIV transmission, failing to understand the difference between unprotected sex and unsafe sex, which involved the complexities of sero-sorting.
“Comments by Minister Springborg that ‘so-called gay community leaders’ have ‘completely sold out the people they claim to represent’ are deeply insulting and offensive to the volunteers and staff that have worked tirelessly for the LGBT community over the past 28 years,” HC said in a statement.
“Minister Springborg has declined to meet with Healthy Communities since becoming Health Minister, despite the organisation raising concerns about HIV prevention strategies, LGBT health concerns and requesting meetings with him.”
HC dismissed the claim it was a radical lobby group, saying, “We are a health service organisation providing a range of evidence-based practical health services to the LGBT communities of Queensland. Part of our work also includes identifying wider structural barriers to health (e.g. stigma and discrimination) and advocating for healthy public policy.”
HC cited the successful ‘Rip&Roll’ campaign, which advocated the use of condoms, as an example of its successful health promotion, adding the campaign cost $150,000 to $200,000, “not the ‘millions of dollars’ claimed by Minister Springborg.”
“Minister Springborg seems to believe that showing a picture of a gay male couple is somehow ”radical” and “political” – in fact it’s reality and supported by the vast majority of Queenslanders,” HC said.
“You can’t do effective HIV prevention for gay men if you refuse to acknowledge and show that gay men have relationships. Continuing to treat these relationships as second class increases HIV transmission.”
HC added that in the nine months since its defunding, the Health Department has delivered no HIV campaigns targeting gay men.