magazine

Archive for August, 2012|Monthly archive page

Plans for Brighton Pride

In Pride, QUAC on 29/08/2012 at 5:15 pm

Queers Against the Cuts will be marching on the Brighton Pride Procession this Saturday 1st September 2012. We would really welcome you to join us.

We shall be meeting up at 10.30 am at the entrance to Brighton Pier At approximately 10.45 am we will find our place in the rally.  For more details please click on the following link: http://www.pridebrighton.org/index.php/parade

Many of us either can’t afford or are not willing to pay £17.50 to get into the park – so after the march we go beach or back in town depending on the weather and how we feel.  All are welcome to join

If you have one, remember to bring your camera.

See you there

Squeezing until the PIP squeaks – Disability benefit and the HIV positive community

In Benefits, QUAC on 29/08/2012 at 5:04 pm

By Joseph Healy

This article first appeared in Baseline

As a gay man living with HIV since at least 1990, when I was diagnosed, I have always been extremely grateful and reliant on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – as have many others with HIV for whom it has been a life raft since it was introduced in 1992, ironically enough by Mrs Thatcher’s government. It is a benefit which is not means tested and which allows HIV positive people to return to work, part-time in my case, and still be assured that if they are unwell or unable to work full-time that they will have something to fall back on.

Several years ago I attended a meeting organised by Terrence Higgins Trust when it seemed that many of us who had been awarded DLA for life, could have that benefit stripped from us. There were people there, some of them in their 70s, with real terror in their eyes. Many had given up jobs and life insurance and for them, DLA is the only guarantee of any sort of quality of life. A recent article in the Guardian also referred to this.

The new Welfare Reform Act intends to abolish DLA from next year and replace it with PIP, Personal Independence Payments. It is clear from debates during the passing of the legislation and from Department of Work and Pensions statements since, that the aim is to remove half a million recipients from DLA. Even worse, ATOS Medical Services, whose cut throat methods have recently been exposed in the Channel 4 ‘Dispatches’ programme and elsewhere, have been given the contract to assess who should and should not receive PIP. The quota will be what drives the assessment and not any real need.

The process will start from next April with face-to-face interviews. It is likely that many long-term recipients of DLA will not be eligible for PIP under the new harsh testing regime, which resembles the “computer says no” scenario from Little Britain. What is even worse is that DLA is a gateway benefit, thus those refused PIP will also lose subsidised travel, housing benefit and many other benefits and be cast into the grinder of being dependent on Employment and Support Allowance. The impact, both in terms of mental and physical health, for many people living with HIV will be huge.

It is vital that people living with HIV join the campaigns being mounted against these huge benefit cuts and the demonisation of disabled people by the anti-cuts and disability movements. In Greece, for example, because of the severe cuts, only those whose CD4 cell count is below 200 receive benefits, with the result that some are allowing their health to fail to access food etc. Two organisations I am involved in are Coalition of Resistance, the national anti-cuts campaign and Queers Against the Cuts, fighting against the cuts for LGBT people, many of whom are HIV positive. We must fight together or we will sink together.

A Tail of Two Prides

In Pride, QUAC on 29/08/2012 at 4:58 pm

We are not holding a meeting this month, however that does not mean that members of QUAC have not been busy as we joined the procession for “World Pride” and had a stall a UK Black Pride.

As you may recall Pride London had a financial crisis announced in the week before the event.  A plan ‘B’ was adopted that involved the parade being turned into a march and activities around Soho cancelled.

Quite frankly it was a lament from the start – it was not so much a plan ‘B’ as an abandonment of any sort plan at all.  There was no information about where the sections would start resulting in chaos.  We had hoped to march with our friends in Queer strike and Queer Resistance – but this became impossible.

Just out of Trafalgar square we were greeted by former members of the Gay Liberation Front and Campaign for Homosexual Equality.  While welcome it was somewhat a reminder of the fact that many of these older activists who gave us the liberties that we now take for granted were effectively denied involvement in the precession because vehicles provided by the Age UK Open Doors Project had to be withdrawn.

However the people I felt most sorry for were our international guest, such as the Filipino contingent.  while their display was impressive, we were left wondering of how much more beautiful if they could have the floats that they originally intended …  I overheard someone saying “this is a – disgrace… Internationally we will become a joke!”.

By contrast UK Black Pride was very different event.  Despite also making major changes (moving from Kennington Park to The Ministry of Sound) it managed to maintain its reputation for being one the most friendly and inclusive Prides.

We had a stall tucked away in “The baby box” – a small room to the side of the main bar.  Neithertheless we managed to talk a number of people and got over a dozen people to sign up to our mailing list.