Policy & Politics
District Judge Rules U.S. Policy Requiring Overseas HIV/AIDS Groups to Condemn Commercial Sex Work Violates Free Speech
May 10, 2006
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero on Tuesday in New York ruled that a U.S. policy requiring recipients of federal HIV/AIDS service grants to pledge to oppose commercial sex work violates the groups' First Amendment right to free speech, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports (Neumeister, AP/Long Island Newsday, 5/10). The Bush administration in June 2005 notified U.S. organizations providing HIV/AIDS-related services in other countries that they must sign the pledge to be considered for federal funding. The policy stems from two 2003 laws, including an amendment to legislation (HR 1298) authorizing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief that prohibits funds from going to any group or organization that does not have a policy "explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking." The Open Society Institute, the Alliance for Open Society International and Pathfinder International last year filed the lawsuit against USAID over the policy. OSI has said the policy "weakens efforts to provide lifesaving services and information to sex workers" and is unconstitutional because it is vague and requires private organizations to adopt the government's position. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Rosberger argued that the 2003 law mandating the pledge did not contain any provision intended to deter HIV/AIDS treatment efforts, including those for commercial sex workers (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/18).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.