At yesterday's AIDS 2012 panel "The U.S. Congress and the Global AIDS Epidemic," chaired by Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), protesters holding red umbrellas interrupted the proceedings to demand an end to the "prostitution pledge" contained in the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which requires recipients of PEPFAR funding to oppose prostitution.
While the group shouted down Frist with chants of "Repeal the pledge, reform PEPFAR" and "Sex workers' rights are human rights," Rep. Barbara Lee turned the tide by speaking about recently introduced legislation that seeks to remove that pledge, HR 6138. Her comments were answered with a new chant, "We love Barbara Lee!"
Audacia Ray, Brooklyn-based founder of the Red Umbrella Project, a sex worker advocate and media specialist has posted video of the July 25 protest on her site. The video also features comment from Kelli Dorsey of D.C.'s Different Avenues organization, a local advocacy organization serving youth and young adults affected by HIV and violence, particularly homeless LGBT youth engaged in sex work as a means of survival.