ACT UP LONDON occupy purple carpet at Bohemian Rhapsody Premier over ongoing silencing of HIV/AIDS.
AT todays premier (Oct 23) of the new biopic of Freddie Mercury’s life Bohemian Rhapsody premiere at Wembley SSE Arena, ACT UP LONDON and the NHS ANTI-SWINDLE TEAM occupied the purple carpet chanting a revised version of Don’t Stop Me Now called Don’t Cut Me Now and chanting HIV Stigma is real life – not just fantasy.
The film and particularly its trailer has received a great deal of criticism for its meagre attention to the huge contribution that sexuality, the AIDS crisis and the associated stigma had on Freddie Mercury’s life.
The alleged pacification and sanitisation of Mercury’s life has resulted in ongoing controversy throughout the film’s production and the activists at the premier wanted to highlight how the ongoing silencing of the reality of LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS continues stigma.
Hywel ap Dafydd, from ACT UP LONDON said: “Queen was the soundtrack of my childhood. Freddie died when I was twelve, it was the first time I heard of AIDS and HIV. I’ve been living with HIV for the past eight years thanks to medication that came too late to safe Freddie and the millions of people who died because of AIDS. There’s a drug called PrEP which stops people from catching HIV but the NHS rations it so not everyone who needs it can get it. It’s disgraceful that the NHS denies people this opportunity that neither I nor Freddie had.”
“Freddie ‘Killer Queen’ Mercury was a migrant who died from AIDS and today HIV+ migrants are some of the most oppressed in the HIV / AIDS community. We are here today to highlight the ongoing crisis. Farrokh Bulsara was professionally known as Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar in 1946. The son of Parsis, he spent most of his childhood at boarding school in India. At seventeen he and his family became refugees fleeing from the Zanzibar revolution. After an epic career with Queen Freddie sadly died in 1991 his home in Kensington the day after he publicly announced he was living with HIV. We demand that all HIV+ migrants are treated with up most dignity, that HIV services stop being closed down and an end to all illegal detention of HIV+ migrants.” added Jeremy Goldstein, from ACT UP LONDON
Han Smith, from ACT UP LONDON continued: “Much has changed since then but our sexual health is still under pressure. Due to price gouging by greedy pharmaceutical companies, our NHS rations access to new medication for Hep C and HIV while yet another sexual health service bites the dust. We want access to HIV and Hep C drugs for all. We want stigma education for all. We want sexual health clinics for all. We want it all and we want it now.”
“I am eighteen and I am involved in Act Up London because it is very important for me to fight for our rights. As an LGBT+ woman who was born in a century where AIDS medicine is more accessible for people, I feel lucky but I realise that we still have a lot to do even in 2018. Our aims changed, AIDS not. This is the reason why I want to be dedicated to this struggle. Activism change the world, let’s do this,” added Kenza Simon, from ACT UP LONDON
Ray Malone, from NHS Anti-Swindle Team said: “The NHS Anti-Swindle Team are celebrating the life of Freddie Mercury, by calling for support for all migrants and to make sure that everyone has access to PREP in the UK. In the midst of the biggest refugee crisis since the second world war, our commitment to universal healthcare is more important than ever. The humanitarian principles that the NHS was founded on, that we are all entitled to the same treatment regardless of wealth or background is being eroded by the government’s toxic ‘hostile environment’. The NHS Anti-Swindle Team call for this government to be held accountable for the present situation and reinstate a publicly run, publicly managed and publicly funded healthcare which is available to everyone.”
“In the fourth decade of this crisis, ACT UP LONDON fight to ensure comprehensive and easily accessible treatment for all people, in all countries. This includes not only medications but also mental and social health services as well as housing and economic equality. Here in the UK, we are united with the coalition of activists fighting to keep our National Health Service free, publicly run, and fully funded. In a time of continuing stigma, silence, and isolation, we combat discrimination against and promote the visibility and leadership of those living with HIV and AIDS – including this hugely important biography of our icon Freddie Mercury,” said Dan Glass, from ACT UP LONDON