Statements by OUT and Cape Town Pride Festival regarding GLA and blood donation in SA

January 16, 2006

PRETORIA — With reference to the Saturday Star's publishing of the report entitled "Gays launch blood war", 14 January 2006. The Saturday Star reports that "hundreds of homosexuals lied about their sexual orientation and donated blood" and that "an estimated 300 men complied with a plea by the GLA to donate blood". Such claims not only misprepresent the gay community but fuel public fears and homophobia. The onus rests on the journalist, before publishing such a report, to endeavour to establish the veracity of the claims and the credibility of the source. The claims emanate from the GLA – an organisation which has not demonstrated its membership; not provided any proof on claims made; and from whom the organised LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) sector has consistently distanced themselves. On the face of it this seems like sensationalist and irresponsible journalism . As such we call on the Saturday Star to either verify the facts of the report, or, apologise with a published correction for propagating misinformation that raises unneccesary public alarm and misrepresents gay people. This shoddy journalism obscures the real issue at hand: the invalidity of the South African National Blood Service's (SANBS) policy on excluding MSM and the substance thereof.

OUT reiterates, as we have done numerous times in the past, that we believe the GLA to be a charlatan group, driving a shadowy agenda without legitimacy. It does not speak on behalf of gay and lesbian people. Neither does it have their interests at heart. We believe that the South African Police Services should investigate the claims that the SANBS regulations were purposefully and with malicious intent transgressed by the GLA.

OUT will be pursuing reasoned discussions with the SANBS so as to explore ways to constructively address their current position on the exclusion of MSM. We do believe that the exclusion of MSM from giving blood reflects a discriminatory position . The focus should be on unsafe sexual practises regardless of the group in which such practises take place. If groups are used as a social indicator for risk of HIV transmission, why aren't married women not engaged in extra-marital sex excluded, as it has been proven that they have highest risks of HIV infection? The SANBS's present position stigmatises gay men and presents incorrect public information on HIV transmission. – Issued by OUT LBGT Well-being

CAPE TOWN — The current �blood war� of the GLA and the media coverage generated by this issue has once again highlighted the ludicrousness of this so-called organisation and the damage it does to the gay community.

Cape Town Pride Festival strongly discredits the GLA�s latest claim that hundreds of potentially-HIV positive gay people donated blood secretly. It is doubtful whether the GLA could mobilise ten people to do something so irresponsible, and this is believed to be yet another instance of this organisation spreading malicious rumours.

For several years the self-styled Gay and Lesbian Alliance has been featured regularly in the media, based on press releases issued on an almost daily basis and faxed to its contact database. The organisation claims to represent 150 000 members of the gay community, and has previously registered as a political party. Last year the �party� changed its name to the ONC (One Nation Congress).

In fact it is general knowledge that the GLA is a joke. Juan Uys, the head of the GLA, and the media director David Baxter, are believed to be one and the same person - a publicity-hungry man who never appears in public, and who creates mayhem for the gay community that he claims to represent. With a non-existent address and an ever-changing cellphone number, the GLA�s top exec/s (sic) are continually unreachable and untraceable. A recent invitation to be interviewed on Radio 2000 was accepted, and at the last minute no-one from the GLA showed up.

The GLA is not representative of gays and lesbians and is widely considered to be a pariah of the community. The media are challenged to check the validity of claims by the GLA thoroughly before publishing such damaging rumours in future. – Issued by Cape Town Pride Festival

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