ASP News & Updates

Letter to Will Hodgman MP

Dear Premier,

There is a strong push for drug law reform around cannabis use in Australia and Tasmania in particular. You have probably seen several of the high profile stories that have aired recently outlining the need for reform around the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The currently available cannabis medications are largely ineffective, expensive, difficult to obtain and not available for many conditions. Research into the medical use of cannabis is stifled by prohibitive legislation, despite many promising studies overseas and some apparently miraculous anecdotes, such as those relating to children who suffer from epileptic fits.

Polls asking Tasmanians if they support legalisation of medicinal cannabis are consistently showing a high number of supporters for law reform. During Hobart's Sexpo, our volunteers spoke to Tasmanians about cannabis law reform more broadly and asked people to sign a card calling for urgent drug law reform around cannabis. We have included a sample of these signed cards for your perusal.

Tasmania's laws around cannabis are in urgent need of reform so that patients can access medication they desperately need. It will also allow for more research to be done, making treatments more effective in the future.

If there is an option to ease a sick person's pain or treat their illness, don't you think that a legal option ought to be available rather than risking a punishable offence?

Although the medical issue is clearly important, it is also clear that criminalising the use of recreational cannabis is having a negative effect on the one in ten Tasmanians who consume cannabis. The harms associated with cannabis are not mitigated through prohibiting the plant and spending money on policing this law.

The Tasmanian health department estimates that there are about 50,000 current cannabis consumers in Tasmania. Criminals whose revenue goes untaxed and who have continued to operate for decades despite police efforts are meeting this substantial market demand. Those 50,000 Tasmanians could be purchasing a product that creates jobs in the state, is taxed in order to fund harm reduction, health and education programs.

Prohibition does not stop people from taking cannabis nor does it help those few who do have health problems due to cannabis. It does lead to the incarceration of countless Tasmanians, ruining their lives more than smoking a joint could ever do.

Would you reconsider the evidence around cannabis regulation, in particular for medicinal purposes but also for legal, recreational purposes?

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Fiona Patten
President & Founder
AUSTRALIAN SEX PARTY

Sex Party calls for action not promises on HIV and the law

The Sex Party has called on the Victorian Health Minister to reconsider his announcement and repeal Section 19A of the Crimes Act that makes it an offence to intentionally cause a serious disease (with HIV exclusively defined as a serious disease).

Party president Fiona Patten said that the section of the Act in question was introduced exclusively to address a fear of HIV infection 21 years ago. “To remove the stigma of this discriminatory and ineffective regulation it must be removed in its entirety”, she said. “UN AIDS has stated that criminalisation of HIV does not lead to positive outcomes for the community and adversely affects people living with and without HIV.

"In Victoria we know that using Criminal law as a public health tool doesn't work. In part it is the reason we changed our Prostitution Laws in Victoria. It is the reason that we did not outlaw syringes here but provided needle exchanges instead. It is why Australia is recognised as a world leader in fighting HIV”.

The Sex Party is also concerned that amendments may lead to criminalising more people who have other "serious" diseases such as Hepatitis C, HPV and Clamydia, all of which can lead to terminal illnesses.

Ms Patten said the minister had placed no timetable on changing the law.

The Sex Party has called on the Victorian parliament to introduce legislation to repeal Section 19a of the Crimes Act by the end of the week.

“Wouldn't it be a brilliant finish to the conference if the host, Victoria, actually acted on the conference's recommendations instead of making promises to”?

International AIDS Conference

Melbourne is hosting the International AIDS 2014 Conference, opening next week. Already there are a number of pre-conferences some of our members are attending including the Sex Worker pre-conference, MSM and Transgender Global Forum (MSM = men who have sex with men), HIV Criminalisation pre-conference and a whole host of associated cultural events. We will be posting to the Sex Party Facebook page articles, reviews, reports and reflections on some of the conference highlights, exhibition openings, dance performances and more. Here are some events that may be of interest:

The Female Agenda

The Female Agenda: Global Perspectives on Feminine Identities, Reproductive Rights and Sexual Health is a one-off panel discussion that brings together some of the best minds from the 20th International AIDS Conference. Hosted and chaired by Leslie Cannold (Melbourne author, academic ethicist, columnist, activist and Australian public intellectual), this session will explore a wealth of information and insight on sexual health, reproductive rights, identity and living with HIV.

The panel will represent an array of opinions, ideas and passions. Panelist Che Gossett is a trans femme writer and activist who has contributed to publications such as Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex, Scholar and Feminist Online and Queer Necropolitics.

Jessica Whitbread is an activist, author and artist who promotes sexual health and HIV/AIDS awareness through tea parties and her No Pants, No Problem parties.

Completing the panel is the activist Teresia Otieno, currently the ICW Global Chair. Teresia is currently focused on issues around coerced and forced sterilisation of women living with HIV in Kenya.

When: Tuesday 22 July 2014 7pm -9pm
Where: Library at the Docks, Docklands
Tickets: Free

Get tickets

Working Together, Stronger Together - Mobilisation March

The Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) and Victorian Trades Hall Council are facilitating the Working Together, Stronger Together - AIDS 2014 Mobilisation March on Tuesday 22 July 2014. The Mobilisation March has been a traditional part of the International AIDS Conference, tracing its origins back to the political marches at the 1987 International AIDS Conference. Since then, the March has been used as a vehicle for airing both political and cultural issues faced by the global HIV/AIDS community. The March has a history of focussing on a diverse range of issues impacting on the fight against HIV/AIDS. Issues likely to be raised in this March include, but are not limited to:

  • Access to Affordable Treatment
  • Fighting HIV Stigma and Discrimination
  • Freedom of Movement for People Living with HIV (PLHIV)
  • Eliminating the Criminalisation of HIV
  • Access to Effective Prevention Options
  • GLBTI Rights
  • Government Inaction on Preventing the Spread of HIV

At 3:30PM, the March will assemble at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) - the location of the 20th International AIDS Conference.

Commencing at the front of the MCEC, the March will proceed down Flinders Street and arrive at Federation Square. The March will be largely comprised of international activists and conference delegates joined by local activists and community groups to raise awareness of issues faced by people living with HIV (PLHIV) across the globe as well as at-risk communities.

The rally will open with speeches from local and international activists in addition to Victorian Trades Hall Council’s Luke Hilakari and VAC CEO Simon Ruth. The March concludes at Federation Square, where it is followed by the AIDS 2014 Candlelight Vigil from 6PM. All Mobilisation March attendees are encouraged to stay and attend the Vigil.

For enquiries relating to this event, please contact:

Ilan Werbeloff Events Coordinator This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MobilisationMarchMailchimp

War On The Salvos!

The Salvation Army have quietly been chipping away at social reforms over the years and although they appear to do good charitable work in the community, today’s media release by Aletha Blayse puts another view forward on this. As John Howard’s advisor on illicit drug regulation the Salvos’ Major Brian Watters put the case for drug law reform back a hundred years. Tell the Salvos to stop interfering in Australia’s moral compass and get on with feeding the poor. Join the demonstration in Sydney.

White Shield Appeal Campaign

Protest Against Salvation Army
Sydney, 17th-31st July, 140 Elizabeth Street, Sydney (Salvation Army Headquarters)

The White Shield Appeal campaign would like to state its support for a protest this week by prominent homelessness rights activist and social justice campaigner, Stephanie Calabornes, against the Salvation Army.

Ms Calabornes will be mounting a 2-week protest against the Salvation Army in Sydney. She will be maintaining a vigil night and day (4pm 17th July to 4pm 31st July, 2014) outside Sydney Salvation Army headquarters, 140 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, protesting against:

  • The Salvation Army’s treatment of homeless people.
  • How the Salvation Army allowed confessed child sex abuser Colin Haggar to work at women’s and children’s refuge, Samaritan House Shelter.

  • The Salvation Army’s treatment of victims of its children’s homes and their families.

  • The Salvation Army’s delivery of services to homeless youth.

Homelessness Services:

According to Ms Calabornes, “The Salvation Army is using homeless people for free labour instead of directing them to meaningful employment via the Salvation Army’s Employment Plus Service.” She says this practice is appalling, and that the public should know about it.

Ms Calabornes also alleges that, “The Salvation Army is imposing conditions on some homeless people who are offered accommodation in Salvation Army shelters that they attend Salvation Army religious services.” Ms Calabornes says, “This is disgusting. The Salvation Army is imposing its religious beliefs upon people as a condition of provision of basic services. All people, including homeless people, have the right to freedom of religious expression, which includes not attending Salvation Army church services.”

Colin Haggar:

Ms Calabornes also wants to remind the public about the decision of the Salvation Army to allow confessed child sex abuser, Colin Haggar, to work at the Samaritan House Shelter, a refuge for women and children. Ms Calabornes says, “What confidence can the public have in the Salvation Army to care for vulnerable young people if it allowed a person like Colin Haggar to be placed in this position?” Ms Calabornes says she would like to see all governments review current funding to the Salvation Army following a thorough investigation of all Salvation Army refuge centres.

Children’s Homes’ Victims & Families:

Ms Calabornes is also concerned about the Salvation Army’s treatment of victims of Salvation Army children’s homes and their families. She says, “The Salvation Army’s dealings with victims of its homes has been callous.” She says she would like to see all levels of government force the Salvation Army to deliver true restorative justice to victims and families and says, “The Salvation Army is misleading the public that it is delivering justice to its victims; it is not.” Ms Calabornes also wants the Salvation Army to tell the Australian public how many Salvation Army children’s homes victims are currently homeless.

Homeless Youth:

Ms Calabornes also alleges that the Salvation Army is, “Not doing the job it claims to do in provision of services to homeless youth.” According to Ms Calabornes, “I have repeatedly told the Salvation Army that it needs to send its Oasis homeless youth vans to specific locations in order to reach homeless youth. It has not done so, leaving many young people without the support the Salvation Army claims to offer.”

The White Shield Appeal campaign hopes anyone with an interest in these important issues will come along and support Ms Calabornes in her protest at 140 Elizabeth Street, Sydney.

INQUIRIES

Protester: Ms Stephanie Calabornes (Phone 0456096293; Email   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; Twitter @outandabout12)

White Shield Appeal campaign: www.whiteshieldappeal.org (Ms Aletha Blayse, Phone 0457151278; Email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; Twitter @alethab)

 

Sex Party Cranks Up in Canberra

The Australian Sex Party has begun forming its first Canberra branch in preparation for the 2016 ACT election. Starting with a general membership drive and the appointment of a five-person team, the party hopes to register in the ACT within a few months.

Steven Bailey will act as Team Leader, 2013 Senate candidate and self-professed ‘bogan’ from Kambah, Deborah Avery, is Branch Secretary, while local arts and media personality, Jorian Gardner, takes on the role of inaugural Director. The team includes the party’s National President, Fiona Patten and media advisor Robbie Swan.

The Canberra Branch of the Australian Sex Party will be fighting for voluntary euthanasia, drug law reform, sexual and marriage equality, the reduction of red tape and taxes for small business, the protection of civil liberties and making Canberra’s religious organisations pay their fair share of taxes.

Through the contribution of its ACT members, new and old, the party wants to develop modern, socially responsible policies specifically for the people of the ACT – and is inviting all Canberrans to get involved. The party's constitution even accepts new members who are still members of other political parties making political monogamy a thing of the past.

At the last ACT Senate election, Ms Avery came in at fourth place after the major parties but well ahead of the Palmer United Party.

Mr Swan lost the last Senate seat in Tasmania by only 245 votes to PUP Senator, Jacqui Lambie. Fiona Patten missed out on the last Senate seat in Victoria through a dishonoured preference deal with LDP Senator, David Leyonhjelm.

The Sex Party is looking for people, of varying life experiences, to help us change the political landscape in 2016 like its never been changed before. The Sex Party pledges intelligent, innovative and progressive policies for a rapidly changing ACT as a foil to the creeping and dangerous conservatism growing within the ranks of other ACT political parties. Watch this space.

New Federal Drug Laws Kick Start Australian Drug Production

Today’s announcement by the Federal Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan, that all new psychoactive substances (NPS) will be prohibited from import unless importers can prove they have a legitimate use, will see the creation of hundreds of mobile drug labs and secret production houses start up around the country.

Sex Party President and Eros CEO, Fiona Patten, said the Minister’s media release was very thin on detail. “Will the bans be based on pharmacological mimicry (like Qld and SA) or on psychoactivity (like NSW)?. If based on ‘mimicry’, then will they only apply to LSD, MDMA and cannabis as suggested in the new laws (ie sertonergics and cannabinomimetics) or also to other drugs like GHB, amphetamine etc (ie GABAergics, adrenergics, etc)?

She said that the new laws would radically change the supply chain for NPS in Australia. “Bans on imports do nothing to address the desire and the market for drugs at home” she said. “If they can no longer be bought in from overseas, there are plenty of chemistry graduates who have the know-how to produce these new synthetic psychoactive substances within Australia. The federal government may have just inadvertently opened the door to a massive new drug problem”.

Ms Patten said that regulation would be far more effective in controlling NPS and cited the release of new statistics by the New Zealand Star Trust group last week that showed that during 2013, while it was legal to sell approximately 30 NPS in that country, illicit drug offences declined by 22.7%. Paul Glue, head of psychological medicine at Dunedin School of Medicine (NZ) said that “Since the Bill was enacted, we have seen fewer hospital admissions and emergency presentations associated with the use of synthetics”.

During 2013 there were no recorded deaths from NPS in NZ at the same time as 3,764 people died from tobacco use. The New Zealand government collected $42 million in taxes from the sale of regulated NPS and 3.5 million packets were sold. There were 12 positive media stories and 2,843 negative ones on the topic during 2013.

Ms Patten said the proposed regulatory regime invested unworkable powers with the ACBPS to determine if a substance had a ‘legitimate use’ and that it was unfair to allow the agency that seized the NPS in the first place to then consider whether or not that decision had been correct. “Many common herbs like Damiana have a psychoactive effect”, she said. “Will they be banned? And what is a ‘legitimate use’ anyway? Is the importation of a weak NPS as a healthier substitute for tobacco or alcohol, a ‘legitimate use’?

Ms Patten said Australia was about to break into the scenarios and storylines of the highest rated TV show of all time – Breaking Bad. On one level the TV show was a ‘morality play’ about a high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. He turns to a life of crime producing methamphetamine from a mobile laboratory in the form of a caravan, in order to ensure his family is looked after when he is gone. On another level, the program offers policy makers a compelling and fascinating account of how the prohibition of the new illicit drugs makes organized crime rich and casts misery on average families. Ms Patten strongly advised policy makers to watch the first series before escalating any prohibition on illicit drugs.

She said the negative impacts and dangers of NPS had been overstated in the Government’s Regulatory Impact Statement with little or no evidence produced. There had been little research done on the actual health impact of NPS. On this note she said she was concerned that the Alcohol and Drug sector had not been consulted and possibly were not aware of the RIS.

“The size of the market for synthetic cannabinoid-type products alone is estimated at more than $600 million in Australia”, she said. “If other NPS and individual purchases made via the internet are included, then that figure could be as much as a billion dollars. Considering the size of the market for these products it must be assumed that the vast majority of consumers do not suffer any significant negative health effects.”

Ms Patten said that the solution to the emergence of the New Psychoactive Substances was to legalise an old one – cannabis.

Kink – participate and win a copy

Kink is a documentary directed by Christina Voros and produced by James Franco, which pulls back the curtain on the fetish empire of Kink.com

"In kink, we discover not only a fascinating and often misunderstood subculture, but also, in a career far from the mainstream, a group of intelligent, charismatic, and driven people who really, truly love what they do."

To mark the release of the documentary on DVD in Australia on July 9 we have 10 copies of the DVD available to our supporters.

To win a copy of the Kink DVD submit a question you would like to ask the director regarding her experiences making the documentary. The questions submitted will form a basis of an interview we will publish in our upcoming newsletter.
The 10 questions judged to the best will each win a copy.

Email your questions to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 6pm Sunday 6th July. Winners will be announced July 9th."

Liberal MP Caught Out Over Drug Allegations

West Australian Liberal backbencher, Phil Edman, yesterday called on the WA state government to ban a new product called Liquid Marijuana alleging that it could be a synthetic cannabinoid and contained dangerous chemicals. Police Minister Liza Harvey called it a contraband substance and criticised him for bringing it into Parliament and said that he may have even broken the law by doing this. Edman said he was willing to be arrested over the synthetic cannabinoid plague that was overtaking his Rockingham electorate. Premier Colin Barnett commented that the state was preparing even more laws to ban anything that could be called a psychoactive substance.

Sex Party President, Fiona Patten, said that she could now confirm that the Liquid Marijuana product that Mr Edman had spent so much time denouncing, was in fact, an innocent breath-freshener with no psychotropic effects whatsoever. “If Mr Edman, the Police Minister or the Premier had bothered to read the packaging, they would have found out that the claim that it makes you ‘high’ only comes about after you do a headstand and then spin around on the spot following use of the breath freshener”, she said. “Mr Edman has created an unjustified fear in the public over this product and used it to further his political campaign of being tough on drugs”.

She said that if Mr Edman had read the packaging he would also have learned that: “This product contains absolutely no real marijuana or any other mind altering substance. If you believed our preposterous claims, you must be already stoned. Or else incredibly optimistic. If you are unemployed, visit your local employment office. A unicorn training centre maybe hiring new riders.”

She said it was simply unbelievable that an educated man like Mr Edman, who had managed to make his way into parliament, could possibly have believed that the product was dangerous. “Politicians are stooping to new lows in their war on drugs and half the claims they make about synthetic cannabinoids are simply untrue”, she said. “Mr Barnett’s new laws are being framed in such a way that they will actually ban novelty goods like the ‘Liquid Marijuana’ breath freshener that claims to get you high after doing a headstand and spinning around on the spot.

Ms Patten said that in Queensland, selling the ‘Liquid Marijuana’ with the advice on the packet about ‘how to get high’, would constitute a serious drug offence punishable by years in jail. “Australia’s drug laws are fast becoming a joke and almost unworkable because of the scope of products and behaviours they are trying to encompass”, she said. “Even obvious humour and satire – and possibly unicorns”.

Sex Party To Hand Out Free Pills: Support. Don't Punish

Thousands of activists will take to the streets in more than 80 cities tomorrow to expose the harm that drug laws cause via health crises, instability and mass incarceration around the world.

Mass demonstrations and other actions are planned in London, Paris, Warsaw, Mexico City, Kathmandu, Rome, Phnom Penh, Tbilisi, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow and more than 70 other cities. The actions are varied – from public gatherings, street art and dance displays, music concerts, public meetings and workshops, boat shows, social media campaigns, and advertisements on public transportation and billboards.

The Australian Sex Party will hand out 'safe' druggie bags at major railway stations in Melbourne before unveiling a revised drug policy. This includes a call to establish safe medically supervised injecting facilities in Melbourne and implement better harm reduction services in Victoria's prisons. The party is also calling for decriminalisation of the posession and use of all currently illicit drugs.

Tomorrow is the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. This day is used by many governments to celebrate the war on drugs, to justify violent crackdowns and to promote harsh punishments. It has even been used in the past for public executions and beatings of drug offenders in some countries.

The “Support. Don’t Punish: Global Day of Action” seeks to reclaim this day and promote a more effective and humane approach to drugs that is based on public health and human rights.

The campaign was organised by a coalition of NGOs calling on governments to put an end to the expensive and counter-productive war on drugs. According to estimates, the drug war costs in excess of $100 billion annually to enforce and has failed to reduce drug markets or drug use.

The list of high-profile figures calling for the end of this war on drugs is growing fast: President José Mujica of Uruguay, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, Brad Pitt, Sir Richard Branson, Kofi Annan and Russell Brand to name a few.

“During 2012 to 2013, 7,037 Victorians had a recorded offence for cannabis possession,” notes Australian Sex Party president, Fiona Patten. “There are 4,915 Victorians with a recorded offence for possessing an amphetamine-type stimulant, including the relatively harmless popular party drug, MDMA. The vast majority of these will be non-problematic pot smokers and party goers who shouldn't be punished for using their drug of choice. And for those who do have a problem, the police should be the last people sent in to assist.”

The “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign is a global initiative supported by more than 100 NGOs around the world. It calls for investments in proven effective and cost-effective harm reduction responses for people who use drugs, and for the decriminalization of people who use drugs and the removal of other laws that impede public health services. For more information and resources about the campaign, visit www.supportdontpunish.org and http://supportdontpunish.org/day-of-action-2014/

Look out for volunteers from the Australian Sex Party and supporters on Thursday morning at CBD train stations wearing the 'Support Don't Punish' T-shirts and pick up your extra special gift. Visit the Australian Sex Party's webpage for more information on the party and its policies. http://www.sexparty.org.au

EVENT DETAILS:

7:30am – 9am & 5pm – 6:30pm - Melbourne CBD train stations https://www.facebook.com/events/1493869254180457/

War On The Salvos!

MoralCompas

The Salvation Army have quietly been chipping away at social reforms over the years and although they appear to do good charitable work in the community, today’s media release by Aletha Blayse puts another view forward on this. As John Howard’s advisor on illicit drug regulation the Salvos’ Major Brian Watters put the case for drug law reform back a hundred years. Tell the Salvos to stop interfering in Australia’s moral compass and get on with feeding the poor. Join the demonstration in Sydney.

White Shield Appeal Campaign
Protest Against Salvation Army

Sydney, 17th-31st July, 140 Elizabeth Street, Sydney (Salvation Army Headquarters)

Read more

Letter to Will Hodgman MP

TassieMull

Dear Premier,

There is a strong push for drug law reform around cannabis use in Australia and Tasmania in particular. You have probably seen several of the high profile stories that have aired recently outlining the need for reform around the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The currently available cannabis medications are largely ineffective, expensive, difficult to obtain and not available for many conditions. Research into the medical use of cannabis is stifled by prohibitive legislation, despite many promising studies overseas and some apparently miraculous anecdotes, such as those relating to children who suffer from epileptic fits.

Read more