January 24, 2000 04:16pm
AHF Believes Condom Controversy Fuels Hate Speech; West Hollywood Bars Post Anti-Semitic Slurs
by: Company Press Release
(WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA) -- At a press conference held today at West Hollywood City Hall, several civic, community and religious leaders strongly denounced a recent and ugly act of anti-Semitic and homophobic hate speech in West Hollywood fueled by the recent controversy over condom distribution in the city.
Over the past week, posters calling AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) president Michael Weinstein (the spearhead behind the mandatory condom distribution initiative in West Hollywood) a "Condom Nazi," who "joins the ranks of Jesse Helms, Jerry Falwell and Dr. Laura as an enemy of the gay community," were plastered -- and remained for several days -- on the restroom walls of several gay bars along Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.
"I am attacked in this flier as an enemy of the gay community," said AHF's Michael Weinstein, the primary target of the attack. "I am an enemy of HIV. As someone who has lived through a plague at full throttle I cannot remain silent. I would invite the anonymous author of this flier to step forward and debate the issue not in the restroom of a bar, but in the light of day."
The controversy over a city-financed condom distribution program in West Hollywood -- a mandatory plan versus a voluntary program targeting the city's "high risk" bars and establishments -- came to a head January 3rd when the City Council voted in favor of a voluntary program targeting so called "high risk" (principally gay) establishments. In July, City Council had voted 3 to 2 to instruct city staff to draft wording for a mandatory condom distribution plan for future vote. The staff's subsequent plan focused principally on gay establishments, which led to angry protest from many gay bar owners who felt that only targeting gay establishments was discriminatory (AIDS Healthcare Foundation's mandatory condom availability ballot initiatives -- then as now -- target both gay and straight venues).
Two days after the January 3rd Council vote, AHF filed 4634 voter signatures (2310 valid signatures are needed to qualify the measure) in support of a mandatory condom availability initiative in West Hollywood. The measure identifies bars and establishments that would be required to participate in the mandatory program based on alcohol sales (50% or more of revenue from alcohol sales for on-site consumption), NOT so called "high risk" designations.
"As a gay man and a Jew, my people were double victims of the Holocaust," added AHF's Weinstein. "Nazis committed mass murder. Using that term not only insults me as a Jew and a gay man but it degrades the lessons of history."
The anonymous hate speech attack on Weinstein and AIDS Healthcare Foundation was denounced by other prominent civic, community and religious leaders at the press conference including West Hollywood City Council Member Paul Koretz, TEMPLE KOL AMI Rabbi Denise Egger, and Los Angeles Human Rights Commissioner Morris Kight.
For further information, please contact AIDS Healthcare Foundation Community Relations Director Ged Kenslea, 323-860-5225, or pager, 213-209-8123.