Big FAIL when the Supremes knocked down a major part of the Voting Rights Act. But quickly followed by the two marriage equality related decisions we are celebrating.
And then they made another great decision that went more under the radar. In a 6-2 decision (with fanatic Scalia and the dumbass Thomas being the only dissenters), the Supreme Court overturned a Baby Bush law from 2003 that required nonprofits that receive federal funds to fight AIDS internationally to sign a statement publicly opposing sex work.
For ten years, this misguided policy has forced organizations to make a difficult decision: denounce the communities they serve or lose vital funding for lifesaving HIV/AIDS programs. Increasing condom use among sex workers requires direct engagement, demonstrations of correct use, training on negotiating with clients, and collective action among sex workers, all of which could be considered under the policy as “promoting prostitution.”
“At first when we went to [Lima’s] red light district, people wouldn’t talk to us," said a health educator at INPPARES, our Member Association in Peru. "They’d grab a bunch of condoms and run away. Now when we come to the district, everyone runs toward the van.”
“Many of the clients we work with live as men in the jungle during the week and as women in Lima on the weekends,” said Dr. Daniel Aspicuelta, INPPARES' Executive Director. He explained that the communities they reach with HIV prevention services often distrust the health system due to fear of stigma and discrimination. For many sex workers, transgender, and LGBT individuals—particularly those from rural areas in Peru—the red light district is a safe haven to freely express their gender and sexual identities.
Publicly denouncing sex work imposes barriers to establishing the trust needed to provide services to hard-to-reach men and women. Stigma drives sex workers away from accessing critical health education and services. This policy endangered the lives of sex workers, their clients, and their families.
“Beyond being a monumental step forward for human rights, the US Supreme Court ruling allows sexual and reproductive health experts to do what they do best: provide quality, evidenced-based health care without discrimination,” said Carmen Barroso, IPPF/WHR's Regional Director. “This decision is the first step in overturning this ill-conceived policy. The next step is to remove the requirement from foreign-based NGOs that receive US funding.”
This law was just one more example of uptight men (many of whom probably have used prostitutes) trying to shame anyone who has anything to do with sex. Another law that basically says "God tells me sex is bad so we have to shame people who we know have sex." It is just an extension of the campaign by mainly old white men to control women.
And the Supreme court has finally struck it down. It still doesn't erase the stain of the VRA decision. And it isn't as high profile as the marriage equality cases. But it is still a big decision and one that will affect millions of people worldwide.
For those unfamiliar with the international branch of Planned Parenthood, please check out their website...and give them some love. They save so many lives and help give so many women at least some control over their own bodies they deserve our attention.
And for those who want to help fight the uptight white male campaign to make sex un-fun, I recommend checking out the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). Here's what they do:
Educate: We help schools and communities develop comprehensive sexuality education curricula, train teachers to provide high quality sexuality education in the classroom, and help parents talk to their kids about sex.I'd like to think their efforts will in the future reduce the support for the scared-old-men laws wanting to make us fear sex and women parts.
Advocate: We educate policymakers and their staff about issues related to sexuality and train advocates on the local, state, and national levels to build support for comprehensive sexuality education and access to reproductive health information and services.
Inform: We produce countless resources for a wide variety of audiences—from policymakers to parents, healthcare providers to teens—to ensure that everyone has access to accurate, complete, and up-to-date information about sexuality.
And go out there and celebrate one more good Supreme Court decision.
And let's also get out there and protect our voting rights. The NAACP has a petition telling Congress to enact laws to protect voting rights. I haven't yet found any other immediate actions or organizations taking up the fight since the Supreme Court Fail (I am sure they will soon!) but here is a site that has some great info and is likely to be coming up with some actions you can take soon.