Travel ban still in place
LONDON — Gay men living with HIV remain banned from travelling to the U.S. unless they have specifically applied for a visa to do so, HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) warned in mid-April.
Despite the recent introduction of an online visa waiver system (ESTA), people with HIV still need to attend an interview at the American Embassy in London before they can travel legally.
THT’s telephone helpline, THT Direct, has recently received calls from people living with HIV who have tried to enter the country by using the online ESTA system, which is an electronic version of the visa waiver process.
In some cases, these people have reached the U.S. border only to be refused entry by immigration control and turned back to the U.K., incurring substantial travel costs.
Currently, people with HIV are permanently excluded from travel to the U.S. except in exceptional circumstances.
Following new legislation passed by Congress last year, the HIV entry ban is no longer law, but remains an administrative decision to be ruled on by the Department for Health and Human Services.
THT continues to lobby for the complete lifting of the ban.
“While we are pleased that the U.S. Government intends to revisit their entry regulations, it has not happened yet,” Lisa Power, head of policy at THT said on April 20.
People with HIV shouldn’t jump the gun by assuming it’s already okay to travel to the U.S. without a special visa.
“Everyone entering the U.S. is still required to state that they have no transmissible conditions, alongside not being a terrorist, a Nazi or a criminal,” she warned.
“People who don’t get the special visa but then disclose their status on entry run the risk of being forcibly deported and banned from entering the U.S. again, so please be aware of the rules before you fly.”
Gay Labour fund hits target
LONDON — Dorothy’s List, a campaign fund to support LGBT Labour parliamentary candidates, has met its general election target of $2,915.
It was reached in the same week that Labour Party General Secretary Ray Collins was set to address the Speaker’s Conference on improving diversity, including LGBT representation, in the House of Commons.
The LGBT Labour campaign fund met its $2,915 goal 12 months ahead of a likely general election — thanks to the donation of supporter Chris Mahood whose contribution last weekend pushed the fund over its target.
“I donated to LGBT Labour’s Dorothy’s List …because I’m proud of all Labour has achieved on LGBT rights,” Mahood said.
“What LGBT Labour is doing to get more openly gay and lesbian people into Parliament is really important, since having ‘out’ MPs has helped to transform LGBT rights,” he said. “Under Labour, section 28 has been repealed, Civil Partnerships introduced and Gender Recognition Act created.”
Katie Hanson co-chair of LGBT Labour welcomed the donation.
“I don’t think Chris knew what an important difference his donation would make,” she said.’
“Dorothy’s List has now met its £2,000 target 12 months ahead of a likely general election. We thank [Mahood] and the many others who have donated for their support and we will ask our AGM on May 2 to set a new target for the year ahead.”
In May Michael Cashman, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) — the European Parliament’s only out male member — will be holding dinners in Birmingham and Manchester to raise money for Labour Euro candidates.
LGBT Labour plans to hold its next Dorothy’s List fundraiser in London on June 25 with Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell.
Dorothy’s List was created 18 months ago by LGBT Labour to support LGBT people selected by Labour to get elected to public office. The fund will send donations to the campaigns of openly LGBT candidates before the election offering more support for marginal seat candidates, lesbian and bisexual women, transgender people, as well as ethnic minorities and disabled LGBT people.
The Speaker’s Conference was launched by Leader of the House of Commons Harriet Harman in November last year.
During the debate that followed, British Parliament member Emily Thornberry said: “The proposed Speaker’s Conference should expand its remit to consider the increased representation of lesbians, gay people and bisexuals, because to have only one out lesbian in this place of 1,300 politicians is not sufficient to be able to speak about the lived experience of Britain’s 1.8 million lesbians on their behalf.”