Blog Posts

Media Release – Grieving mother urges honesty and action at federal toxic drug crisis

Ottawa, ON | April 29, 2024 – On the eve of the tenth anniversary of her son Danny’s death from unregulated drugs, Petra Schulz, co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH), will testify before the federal Standing Committee on Health (HESA) today on the “Opioid Epidemic and Toxic Drug Crisis.” Since MSTH’s founding in 2016, … Read more

Statement by MiRiDom On the Judgement of BG and the Attorney General of The Commonwealth of Dominica

Statement by MiRiDom On the Judgement of BG and the Attorney General of The Commonwealth of Dominica. Date: 22 April 2024 Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Dominicans, Today, we gather to mark a significant milestone in the journey towards equality, dignity, and freedom in our beloved nation of Dominica. After years of relentless advocacy, dialogue, and … Read more

Podcast: Best and Promising Practices from Low-Barrier, Harm Reduction Shelters in Canada

Please note that this episode discusses violence against women and gender-diverse people and may not be suitable for all audiences. Please take good care when listening. Gender-based violence is the most pressing health risk to women and gender-diverse people in Canada. On any given night, thousands sleep in shelters because of violence at home. However, … Read more

Black Communities

These materials were prepared by the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO), HIV Legal Network, African Caribbean Council on HIV/ AIDS in Ontario (ACCHO), Africans in Partnership Against AIDS (APAA), and Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP). They will provide you with important information about the law in Canada. If you need legal advice, … Read more

Open Letter to Saskatchewan government Re: Health Policy Changes

January 25, 2024 To: Hon. Scott Moe Premier of Saskatchewan premier@gov.sk.ca Hon. Everett Hindley Minister of Health he.minister@gov.sk.ca Hon. Tim McLeod Minister of Mental Health and Addictions ministerrrhe@gov.sk.ca Re: Recent Saskatchewan Health Policy Changes Premier Moe, Minister Hindley, Minister McLeod; We are writing on behalf of the HIV Legal Network and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition to … Read more

Not a Crime – Special Episode

In Not a Crime, HIV Legal Network Senior Policy Analyst Mikhail Golichenko speaks with Kseniya Kirichenko, a Russian human rights lawyer with a long experience of litigation in advocacy in support of LGBTQ+ people, about what this decision means for LGBTQ+ people living in Russia and abroad. Download Our new episode of Pas un crime … Read more

Letter – More than 130 experts in substance use call on Federal Government to continue to support and scale-up Safer Supply Programs

December 14th, 2023 The Honourable Mark Holland Minister of Health House of Commons Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6 The Honourable Ya’ara Saks Minister of Addiction and Mental Health House of Commons Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6 Dear Minister Holland and Minister Saks, As researchers and clinicians across Canada, we are writing out of concern regarding the increased … Read more

Andrew Beckerman – Leadership Donor

It’s incredible to realize that we’ve been fighting the HIV and AIDS pandemic for more than 40 years now. I have been living with HIV since the middle of 1980 and am considered a long-term survivor — one of the lucky ones. In the summer of 1995, while I was living with my then-partner in … Read more

Remembering Our Friend Ron Rosenes

Ron Rosenes was a lover of life and people. He advocated for people living with HIV and AIDS, and for human rights within the 2SLGBTQ+ community. He loved the arts, had a sharp wit (complemented by a very snappy style), and was a calming and confident presence for so many of us. The world was … Read more

Submission – Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Consult, “An immigration system for Canada’s future: Strengthening our communities”

Please see our letter — in partnership with HALCO and COCQ-SIDA — to the Honourable Marc Miller, the new federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC), to provide him with input to IRCC’s review of Canada’s immigration system. We highlighted several changes to the immigration system that are needed to protect and respect the … Read more

Toronto Needs a New Mayor that Prioritizes Evidence-Based Drug Policy

Toronto stands on the cusp of significant change as we move closer to installing a new mayor. In the past few years, against the backdrop of the drug poisoning crisis devasting this country, the issue of drug decriminalization has moved from the shadows of policy discussion to the centre stage of political debate. It is … Read more

HIV organizations in Canada call for the immediate revocation of immigration policy that harms people living with HIV

This statement can be attributed to HALCO, the HIV Legal Network, and COCQ-SIDA. June 21, 2023 – The HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO), HIV Legal Network, and La Coalition des organismes communautaires québécois de lutte contre le sida (COCQ-SIDA), are deeply concerned about the continued application of the “Automatic Partner Notification Policy” (“the … Read more

A DISAPOINTING DECISION FROM THE JAMAICA COURT OF APPEAL

On Friday, March 31st, 2023, the Jamaican Court of Appeal rendered a decision in the constitutional challenge brought by Maurice Tomlinson against sections 76, 77 and 79 of Jamaica’s Offences Against the Person Act (“OAPA”), which criminalize same sex intimacy.    The Court unanimously granted the appeal sought by the Attorney General of Jamaica, thereby … Read more

GOVERNMENT OF CANADA CONSULTATION ON HIV CRIMINALIZATION

On October 20, 2022, the Government of Canada announced the start of their consultation on HIV criminalization, as Canada finally looks to reform the misguided and harmful law on HIV non-disclosure in this country. The Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization (CCRHC), welcomes this consultation – a first step, we hope, to concrete action on law reform. … Read more

Podcast: Not a Crime

Featuring interviews with our policy analysts along with people working farther afield, Not a Crime will highlight the impact of criminalization on people living with HIV and people who use drugs over the coming months. In the premiere English language episode, HIV Legal Network policy analyst India Annamanthadoo talks to senior policy analyst Mikhail Golichenko … Read more

Submission to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs: Review of Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

This submission was made to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs by the Centre On Drug Policy Evaluation and the HIV Legal Network on the Review of Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act on September 21, 2022.

Remembering our friend Alexandra de Kiewit

Today, and for months and years to come, the staff and Board of Directors of the HIV Legal Network mourn the untimely and heartbreaking death of our beloved friend and colleague, Alexandra de Kiewit. Among her many other accomplishments, Alexandra was a long-time Board member at the Legal Network, and we will miss her more than … Read more

Time to decriminalize HIV non-disclosure

This article was originally published by The Lawyer’s Daily (www.thelawyersdaily.ca) a division of LexisNexis Canada. By India Annamanthadoo and Richard Elliott (August 10, 2022, 9:55 AM EDT) — Canada has long been one of the world’s worst offenders when it comes to prosecuting people living with HIV for alleged non-disclosure of their HIV status. Since … Read more

Letter to Ministers Bennett and Duclos re: Proposed cumulative threshold of 4.5 grams in BC

April 13, 2022 The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos Minister of Health cc: Hon. Sheila Malcolmson, B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Dear Ministers Bennett and Duclos: Re: Proposed cumulative threshold of 4.5 grams in BC We write … Read more

Letter to Ministers Bennett and Duclos re: Threshold quantities in exemption requests

Today, the HIV Legal Network and 21 partner organizations sent a letter to Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, and Jean-Yves Duclos, federal Minister of Health, asking them to refrain from establishing and requiring threshold quantities of drugs in provincial and municipal requests for exemption from the Controlled … Read more

Modest Win in Jamaica

For seven years, I have been in court fighting the Jamaican government and nine anti-gay religious groups for the right to kiss my partner. An 1864 British colonially imposed law makes acts of intimacy between men illegal, and my partner and I could be imprisoned for up to ten years at hard labour. Even worse, … Read more

Letter to Minister Mary Ng regarding TRIPS waiver

The following letter was sent to Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development on behalf of more than 40 international organizations and nearly 60 individual experts in the field of health and social justice.   November 24, 2021 Honourable Mary Ng Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business … Read more

Letter to Eileen de Villa re: Toronto’s submission to Health Canada for a section 56 exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

Today, November 29, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health has proposed a new model for drug policy — you can read more about the Toronto model here: https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2021/hl/bgrd/backgroundfile-173568.pdf We are pleased that drug decriminalization is being considered and that the process is beginning. You can read our assessment of the Toronto model here. It’s time for decriminalization … Read more

Open Letter to Justin Trudeau: Prioritizing Drug Policy for Incoming Cabinet Members

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P. Prime Minister of Canada Langevin Block Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2 October 19, 2021 Dear Prime Minister: RE: Prioritizing Drug Policy for Incoming Cabinet Members As you well know, almost 23,000 people have died from an opioid overdose between January 2016 and March 2021, fueled by a contaminated drug supply … Read more

Letter to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada on Medical Inadmissability

The HIV Legal Network and HALCO have submitted this letter to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in response to new regulations amending the immigration and refugee protection regulation. “While the public policy changes made in 2018 to excessive demand in relation to medical inadmissibility — and in particular the decision to raise the threshold by … Read more

Letter to Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart re CDSA exemption

The HIV Legal Network, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, and Pivot Legal Society have written to Kennedy Stewart, mayor of Vancouver, urging him to develop a “Vancouver Model” for decriminalization that is appropriately broad and responds to the aspirations and needs of people who use drugs. This letter follows up on the submission sent in … Read more

Letter: Canada must support global access to COVID-19 vaccines at the WTO

The HIV Legal Network is a proud signatory of this open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging him to support global access to COVID-19 vaccines. March 10, 2021  SENT VIA EMAIL  The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.   Prime Minister of Canada    Re: Canada must support global access to COVID-19 vaccines at the WTO    Dear Prime … Read more

OPEN LETTER: Urgent appeal to increase access to GeneXpert SARS-CoV-2 tests in LMICs

The HIV Legal Network has signed this open letter to the president and CEO of Cepheid, urging the company to increase access to GeneXpert SARS-COV-2 tests in low- and middle-income countries.   Mr. Warren C. Kocmond President and Chief Operating Officer Cepheid 904 Caribbean Drive Sunnyvale, CA 94089 United States CC: Mr. Philippe Jacon, President, … Read more

Letter to Minister Garneau and Minister Schulte

The HIV Legal Network sent the following letter to the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors, urging them to protect the rights of older persons.   February 24, 2021 By electronic mail The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs The Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of … Read more

Letter to Minister Hajdu: Vancouver and British Columbia exemptions to decriminalize simple drug possession

The following letter was sent to Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu on behalf of the HIV Legal Network, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, and Pivot Legal Society.   DELIVERED BY EMAIL February 10, 2021 The Hon. Patty Hajdu Minister of Health   Dear Minister: Re: Vancouver and British Columbia exemptions to decriminalize simple drug possession … Read more

Letter to Ministers Ng and Bains – TRIPS Council waiver

On November 15, 2020, the Legal Network sent this letter to the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade, and the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry, urging them to support a proposal currently before the WTO’s TRIPS Council (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) to waive stringent … Read more

CIVIL SOCIETY LETTER SUPPORTING PROPOSAL BY INDIA AND SOUTH AFRICA ON WAIVER FROM CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE TRIPS AGREEMENT FOR THE PREVENTION, CONTAINMENT AND TREATMENT OF COVID-19

We are one of 379 civil society organizations from around the world that have signed onto a letter supporting the proposal to waive WTO intellectual property rules on patents, trade secrets, industrial designs and copyright for COVID-19 technology (such as medicines, vaccines, masks, and ventilators).   Your organization can sign on here.   CIVIL SOCIETY … Read more

Blog: No time to waste: Lethbridge’s overdose prevention site needs federal support now

Written by Tim Slaney, volunteer coordinator of the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society, and Sandra Ka Hon Chu, the Director of Research and Advocacy at the HIV Legal Network.  At a time when people who use drugs in Alberta are at greatest risk of harm, their own government is doubling down on draconian measures that will undoubtedly result … Read more

Open Letter to Premier Kenney: Supervised Consumption Services in Lethbridge, Alberta

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Former prisoner Steve Simons writes why a prison needle exchange program is needed

          Steve Simons is a former inmate. He joined forces with the Legal Network as a co-applicant in a lawsuit against the Government of Canada over its failure to protect prisoners’ right to health and prevent the spread of HIV and HCV in federal prisons.           I … Read more

Open letter to Minister of Justice: stop enforcing sex work laws immediately

July 23, 2020 The Hon. David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Dear Minister Lametti: In 2014, the federal government passed the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (S.C. 2014, c. 25), criminalizing all facets of sex work, including selling sex in a public space, purchasing sex in all spaces, all material benefits from … Read more

Letter to Canadian Government: Decriminalize simple drug possession immediately

  SIGN IN SUPPORT OF THE DECRIMINALIZATION OF DRUG POSSESSION (organizations only) The HIV Legal Network, Pivot Legal Society and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition have joined forces to call on key ministers in the federal government to immediately decriminalize the possession of illicit drugs in response to the twin crises of opioid overdoses and … Read more

Blog: How we’re advancing rights for all during COVID-19

We advocate for communities who are ignored and excluded, or even scapegoated and criminalized. So with the emergence of this new pandemic, we’re not surprised that the most marginalized among us (including prisoners, people who use drugs, sex workers, those without housing, and migrants) are among those experiencing the most harm. COVID-19 is not “the … Read more

Letter: Reject the socio-economic “review” of supervised consumption sites in Alberta

Read our open letter (download here) in response to Alberta’s “review” of supervised consumption sites, which has been endorsed by 30 Canadian organizations. We have sent this to Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta; Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health; and Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.   Dear Premier Kenney, Minister Shandro, and Associate Minister Luan: We … Read more

COVID-19, Human Rights, and The Legal Network

In the face of a global pandemic, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network remains steadfast in its commitment to upholding the human rights of people living with and affected by HIV. If the history of the HIV epidemic has taught us anything, it is that stigma and misinformation can stand in the way of evidence-based prevention, … Read more

Open Letter to Premier Kenney about SCS

On August 30, 2019, in advance of International Overdose Awareness Day, our colleagues in Alberta sent this open letter to Premier Jason Kenney, Minister of Health Tyler Shandro and Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan, urging them to reconsider their announced review of supervised consumption services in their province. We are proud … Read more

Letter to the Chinese delegation (UNAIDS) — 3 HIV advocates wrongfully detained

Three Chinese lawyers and advocates, Cheng Yuan, Wu Gejianxiong, and Liu Yongze, who work on employment discrimination and disability justice for people living with HIV and viral hepatitis, have been wrongfully detained in Hunan, China since 22 July 2019.  The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network sent a letter to the Chinese delegation of the UNAIDS Programme … Read more

Carving a Path Towards Decriminalizing HIV in Canada

Before starting my internship at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, I was unaware of the severe consequence that accusations of HIV non-disclosure have had on thousands of people living with HIV across Canada. Canada remains fifth in the world in criminalizing individuals for not disclosing their status and continues to hold the unfortunate and unique … Read more

Letter to federal Attorney General on HIV Criminalization

The Legal Network sent the following letter to federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice David Lametti on the subject of HIV criminalization.   July 22, 2019    The Hon. David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada 180 Wellington St. Office 609 House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6    Dear Minister: First of … Read more

Open letter to Minister of Health on SCS

The Legal Network has sent the following letter to the Honorable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, federal Minister of Health, on behalf of likeminded health and human rights organizations.   July 22, 2019 The Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health Confederation Building 356 House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0A6     Dear Minister:   … Read more

Maurice Tomlinson – Statement at World Pride Human Rights Conference

On Monday, June 24, 2019, Senior Policy Analyst Maurice Tomlinson shared a very personal story at World Pride Human Rights Conference. At this event, the Legal Network announced the coming launch of a legal challenge to anti-LGBT laws in Dominica. Maurice reflected on the first such Caribbean challenge we launched, in Jamaica, and told us … Read more

Rest in Power, Alena Asaeva

Alena Asaeva  It is with deep sadness and a sense of profound injustice that we acknowledge the untimely passing of our friend and colleague, Alena Asaeva, age 47, on May 2, 2019. Alena was a fierce warrior who dedicated her life to upholding the human rights of people who use drugs, in Russia and around … Read more

Open Letter to the Government of Canada on the Evaluation of its “Prison Needle Exchange Program”

On March 20, 2019, a group of scientists wrote to the Hon. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and Anne Kelly, Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada, about the evaluation of the Government of Canada’s “Prison Needle Exchange Program.” The text of the letter is available in the download below.

Letter to federal ministers regarding Overdue for a Change

On February 20, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network distributed the full report of Overdue for a Change: Scaling Up Supervised Consumption Sites in Canada. This report builds on the summary released in December 2018 and includes recommendations for actions the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments can take immediately to address the current overdose crisis. The … Read more

Human Rights Day – December 10

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations formally adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And on every anniversary since then, the world has marked Human Rights Day. This Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that everyone, regardless of “race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other … Read more

Limiting HIV prosecutions: Nice talk, but little action

November 5, 2018 It’s past time for action by the federal government. On World AIDS Day 2016, the federal Justice Minister declared that Canada must address the “overcriminalization of HIV” that contributes to HIV stigma and undermines public health. She also committed to working with the provinces, affected communities and medical professionals to this end. … Read more

Open letter to Ontario Minister of Health about the newly proposed “Consumption and Treatment Services” model

October 31, 2018 Dear Minister Elliott: We write to you as organizations concerned about the health and welfare of some of the most vulnerable Ontarians, in response to the October 22 announcement that your government plans to replace supervised consumption sites (SCS) and low-barrier overdose prevention sites (OPS) with “Consumption and Treatment Services.”

Support life-saving supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites: Open letter to Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott

Tomorrow, August 31, marks International Overdose Awareness Day. The epidemic of overdose deaths continues to take a staggering toll, underscoring the need to challenge the deadly stigma surrounding drug use and to revisit the failed approach of criminalizing drug use and imprisoning people who use drugs. But in Ontario this year, the government appears intent … Read more

International Prisoners’ Justice Day

By Sandra Ka Hon Chu, Director of Policy and Advocacy International Prisoners’ Justice Day, observed every August 10, is a chance for people to reflect on what it truly means to be incarcerated in our country. Prisoners are not fundamentally different from us and remain members of our communities who are entitled to human rights. … Read more

Bringing science to justice: historic announcement at AIDS 2018

  July 25, 2018 Today we welcome an important development in the ongoing fight against HIV criminalization in Canada and around the globe.  At the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018), underway this week in Amsterdam, 20 of the world’s leading HIV scientists published a peer-reviewed “Expert Consensus Statement on the Science of HIV in the … Read more

OAS Resolution on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression – Ten Years On

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network Maurice Tomlinson presenting the IACHR Rapporteur on LGBTI people, Flavia Piovesan, with a copy of our work in the Caribbean On June 5, the 48th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted another annual resolution on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression.  … Read more

Racism and Prejudice Have No Place in City Hall – A Message to Toronto City Council

Last month, representatives from holistic practitioner, sex worker and human rights organizations gathered in Committee Room 1 at Toronto City Hall to make deputations to the Municipal and Licensing Standards Committee about the bylaws governing holistic practitioners and body-rub providers. The meeting was prompted by a study of licensing for holistic centres and body-rub parlours, … Read more

Ron Rosenes Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Rights

The 1981 bathhouse raids in Toronto were a brutal attack by the police force on members of a marginalized community. On February 5th of that year, four bathhouses were simultaneously raided by police, who arrested and humiliated the men inside. These men had done nothing wrong, but some were convicted of being “found-ins at a … Read more

Statement: High Court of Trinidad and Tobago strikes down longstanding buggery law

Today, in an historic decision, the High Court of Trinidad and Tobago has struck down as unconstitutional the longstanding, homophobic “buggery” law, most often used to criminalize same-sex intimacy between consenting adults. The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is thrilled to congratulate our friends, colleagues and fellow activists, all of whom have worked tirelessly for this … Read more

Barbados police must take action to protect Trans activist

The following blog post contains images and descriptions of violence against LGBTQI people which may be upsetting. By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network joins Barbadian organizations and individuals in calling for immediate police action in the recent savage attack against local transgender activist Alexa Hoffmann. On the morning of Sunday, … Read more

A Global Reaction to Stop the Spread of Hate

Thanks to the work of local activists, supported by the voices of people and organizations—including the Legal Network—opposed to hate in all its forms, an American hate-preacher was prevented from spreading his murderous message in Jamaica. Initially, it looked as if the efforts would be for naught. Steven Anderson, an American extremist Christian “pastor” who … Read more

Open letter to the Government of Jamaica

Individuals and organizations working to help Jamaica achieve its domestic and international human rights obligations are sending an open letter to the Government of Jamaica, asking them to bar American preacher Steven Anderson from entering the country. Anderson has a record of making anti-LGBTQI, anti-women and anti-Semitic comments. His organization, the Faithful Word Baptist Church, has … Read more

100 Organizations Concerned with Health Sign Open Letter to Canadian, Mexican and U.S. Ministers of Health and Trade Urging That the NAFTA Renegotiation Not Undermine Access to Affordable Medicines

The Legal Network joined organizations across North America to call for a re-negotiated NAFTA to protect access to affordable medicine.

One Week in Jamaica: Celebrating LGBTQI lives and local leadership

Maurice Tomlinson’s 2017 Montego Bay Pride video diary In October, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network helped launch Intimate Conviction, a two-day international conference examining the Church and anti-gay laws across the Commonwealth, and supported a new generation of local LGBTQI leaders to organize the third successful Montego Bay Pride, with more than 850 people participating. … Read more

Montego Bay Pride 2017: “Pride is where I can be free and truly express myself without fear”

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network October 24, 2017 For the third year in a row the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network collaborated with local and international partners to host a successful and incident-free Montego Bay Pride! Starting with about 150 participants in 2015, Montego Bay Pride expanded to over 300 people … Read more

LGBTQI Jamaicans paint a bridge to the police

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network October 19, 2017 In 2010, I received an email from a stranger who promised to kill me if I continued to advocate for LGBTQI human rights in Jamaica. I was urged to go to the police and make a report — the first time I … Read more

UN day against “drug abuse” gets it all wrong

By Nicholas Caivano, Policy Analyst, and Richard Elliott, Executive Director, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network June 29, 2017 As the world again marks the United Nation’s “International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking,” too many UN member states are still missing the point — namely, that drugs are primarily a health issue and not a … Read more

Indigenous Communities and HIV: Resilience, strength and solidarity

June 21, 2017 Today, National Aboriginal Day, we recognize not only the cultures and contributions of First Nation, Inuit and Métis people in Canada, but also the resilience and strength of these communities. Many Indigenous Peoples have had to cope with traumatic life circumstances, including those related to experiences with the residential school and child … Read more

Urgent Action Needed To Save OAS LGBTQI Human Rights Resolution

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network June 21, 2017 Without urgent action by the Government of Canada and other countries supportive of fundamental human rights, protections for LGBTQI people across the western hemisphere are about to be set back by a decade. This is because a very unfortunate precedent is likely … Read more

Canada must be a true LGBTQI ally

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, and Richard Elliott, Executive Director, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network May 1, 2017 Despite certain advances in some countries, the world remains a very dangerous place for LGBTQI people. In Chechnya, gay men are being kidnapped, tortured and even murdered by uniformed military. This horrific situation has reignited an urgent … Read more

Trump aside, Canada should reject trade deals that put drugs out of reach

By Richard Elliott, Executive Director, and Nicholas Caivano, Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network February 1, 2017 Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and declared his intention to renegotiate NAFTA. But as some try to revive the TPP, and trade talks between Ottawa and Washington heat up, Canada should … Read more

21st Century Magic! Gratitude and an Unforgettable Experience at Montego Bay Pride

The following blog post was written by Andrew Beckerman, a long-term HIV survivor and an active board member of the Legal Network since 2014. “I didn’t always believe in magic, but I am starting to believe. My epiphany came as a result of the inspiring and incredible work being done by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal … Read more

On December 6, we remember and we will continue to work to end violence against women

Today, we remember the 14 women who lost their lives in a horrific act of gender-based violence at the hands of a lone gunman in Montréal. Though the incident occurred over 25 years ago, our society continues to struggle with the structural violence against women that manifests in many forms, and in many arenas, all … Read more

New Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization Launched

On October 20 and 21, people living with HIV, community workers, lawyers and academics from across the country met in Toronto to officially launch the new Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization. The Coalition was founded by a group of Canadians and representatives of Canadian organizations who met at the HIV Is Not A Crime … Read more

Montego Bay, Jamaica: Another Pride success!

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network October 24, 2016 How do you measure an event’s success? Is it the number of participants compared to previous events? Montego Bay Pride 2016, co-sponsored by the Legal Network, had over 244 participants — a 50% increase in participation from last year — with participants … Read more

“Foreign agent” charges against Russian harm reduction NGO dropped, but HIV organizations still a target

September 13, 2016 A Moscow court recently dismissed the charges against Russian harm reduction NGO Andrey Rylkov Foundation (ARF) for failing to register as a “foreign agent.” While this is no doubt a victory for ARF, the charges were dropped on procedural grounds, which unfortunately does not prevent similar charges being brought against other HIV … Read more

A Prescription for Coherence?: UN Secretary-General to release report of High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines addressing tension between health and intellectual property rules

By Richard Elliott, Executive Director, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network September 13, 2016 Later this week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to release at the UN in New York the much-anticipated, and already controversial, report of his High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines. The Secretary-General appointed his High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines in November … Read more

Caleb’s victory for the Commonwealth

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network August 16, 2016 When Caleb Orozco, whom I met at an Organization of American States General Assembly in Panama in 2007, decided to be the claimant in a challenge to the Belize anti-sodomy law, I was elated but a bit nervous for him. Belize is … Read more

Landmark resolution marks progress for people living with HIV in prison

A recent landmark outcome from  a legal case — in which the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network intervened, together with the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO) and Prisoners with HIV/AIDS Support Action Network (PASAN) — has secured a number of positive steps for people living with HIV in prison. In June 2016, the parties … Read more

International Assistance Review: an opportunity for Canada to stand up for human rights abroad

When International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau took up her post in November 2015, she was tasked with leading Canada’s efforts to “provide humanitarian assistance to help reduce poverty and inequality in the world” and refocusing Canada’s development assistance “on helping the poorest and most vulnerable.” This renewed focus on marginalized communities must underlie the current … Read more

Losing to win at the Caribbean Court of Justice

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network June 15, 2016 On June 10, 2016, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) delivered a landmark, but decidedly mixed, decision on the rights of LGBTI people. Three years ago, as a gay Jamaican citizen, and with the support of AIDS-Free World, I launched a challenge … Read more

Consensus crumbling: report from the UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs

By Richard Elliott, Executive Director April 29, 2016 It was a surreal exercise that unfolded at the UN in New York last week — a pretend consensus, and a terrible dereliction of duty by some of the world’s governments. And yet, paradoxically, I left the event at the end of the week feeling profoundly encouraged. … Read more

Canada on drugs at the UN: Standing up for a long-overdue policy shift

By Richard Elliott The applause persisted until the chair of the session eventually gavelled it to an end. The occasion? Canada’s statement last month at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna, where countries were negotiating the text of a declaration to be adopted next week at the UN General Assembly’s Special Session on … Read more

Diplomacy or denialism? International statement highlights problems with world drug policy meetings

March 14, 2016 This week, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) is convening in Vienna to prepare for the highly anticipated UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the “world drug problem,” which will take place next month (April 19–21) in New York. The last UNGASS on drugs was in 1998, under the banner of … Read more

Decriminalizing Homosexuality: The cases of Canada and Jamaica

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network March 4, 2016 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently indicated that he will posthumously pardon George Klippert for engaging in consensual sodomy. Klippert’s 1965 conviction under the British imposed anti-gay law and his subsequent sentence as a sex offender led to a public outcry that … Read more

Did Russia Cancel the Supremacy of International Law?

By Mikhail Golichenko, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network February 23, 2016 The amendments to Russia’s Federal Constitutional Law on the Constitutional Court, which came into force on December 15, 2015, simply enshrined into law a principle that was already implicit: the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation has the right to verify the … Read more

Tuberculosis, Stigma and Drug Control: A case from Russia

By Mikhail Golichenko, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network February 4, 2016 In December 2015, I attended a judicial workshop on human rights and tuberculosis (TB) organized by the University of Chicago Center in Delhi. It was a great gathering of civil society activists, judges, lawyers and medical practitioners from more than ten countries including … Read more

R. v. Lloyd: A coalition condemns mandatory minimum sentencing at the Supreme Court

By Mclean Ayearst, legal research volunteer and former Legal Network intern January 13, 2016 The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is part of a coalition which is intervening at the Supreme Court in the case of R. v. Lloyd, the latest challenge to Canada’s harsh and damaging drug laws. In R. v. Lloyd, the Supreme Court … Read more

Dignity and liberty for all: Why Jamaica’s sodomy law must go

December 9, 2015 Please note, an abbreviated version of this commentary was published earlier today by The Jamaica Gleaner under the headline “Why the sodomy law must go“. On December 10, 2015, International Human Rights Day, a new constitutional challenge to the Jamaican anti-sodomy law is being launched in Kingston. This outdated holdover from the … Read more

Increasing the visibility of LGBTI people and their rights in the Caribbean

December 4, 2015 Two separate, but related events supported by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network took place in the Caribbean last week: Police LGBTI Sensitization Training in Antigua and Barbuda from November 24–27 and the launch of the Barbados Pride Committee in Barbados on November 28 and 29. The police training in Antigua was facilitated … Read more

Remembering trans lives lost … and agitating for change, in Canada and abroad

November 20, 2015 Today is the 17th International Transgender Day of Remembrance. Since 1999, this day has been an opportunity to raise public awareness of the ongoing violence experienced by trans people, and to honour the lives of those trans people murdered because of stigma and hate. It is an appalling global tragedy that, even in … Read more

HIV stigma and Charlie Sheen’s outing: things to remember

November 17, 2015 In a television interview this week, actor Charlie Sheen revealed he is living with HIV, claiming that part of his reason for doing so is to put an end to years of rumours as well as extortion through threats of revealing his status. His revelation has prompted a flurry of media attention … Read more

Fears Confirmed: Access to medicines and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

November 13, 2015 Last week, the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement was finally made public. Running to more than 6000 pages, it raises a host of grave concerns about its impact on everything from environmental protection to labour and other human rights, from internet privacy to food safety… and much more, including access … Read more

Updates from Russia: Intervening at the European Court of Human Rights and recent successes

November 2, 2015 The HIV epidemic in Russia and Eastern Europe is home to the world’s most rapidly expanding epidemic. Taken together, Russia and Ukraine account for over 85 percent of the people living with HIV in the region. In this critical context, the Legal Network continues to work with its partners on the ground … Read more

Up for Vote: A New Vision on Drug Policy

October 19, 2015 The following blog post was written jointly by Richard Elliott, Executive Director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and Donald MacPherson, Executive Director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition. How encouraging that the state of our outdated and ineffective drug policy is getting some attention during this federal election. Finally, after decades of … Read more

Election 2015: Bill C-2 and supervised consumption services — Canada’s major federal parties respond

This is the sixth and last in a series of blog posts being published by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network ahead of Election Day on October 19, 2015. Recently, we sent a questionnaire to the five major federal parties, asking their position on key questions related to HIV and human rights. Four out of five … Read more

Election 2015: Prisoners’ right to health — Canada’s major federal parties respond

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts being published by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network ahead of Election Day on October 19, 2015. Recently, we sent a questionnaire to the five major federal parties, asking their position on key questions related to HIV and human rights. Four out of five parties responded. … Read more

Election 2015: Funding the federal HIV/AIDS strategy — Canada’s major federal parties respond

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts being published daily by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network ahead of Election Day on October 19, 2015. Recently, we sent a questionnaire to the five major federal parties, asking their position on key questions related to HIV and human rights. Four out of five parties … Read more

Election 2015: Bill C-36 and sex workers’ rights — Canada’s major federal parties respond

This is the third in a series of blog posts being published by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network ahead of Election Day on October 19, 2015. Recently, we sent a questionnaire to the five major federal parties, asking their position on key questions related to HIV and human rights. Four out of five parties responded. … Read more

Election 2015: Bill C-398 and access to medicines — Canada’s major federal parties respond

This is the second in a series of blog posts being published by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network ahead of Election Day on October 19, 2015. Recently, we sent a questionnaire to the five major federal parties, asking their position on key questions related to HIV and human rights. Four out of five parties responded. … Read more

Election 2015: LGBTI rights at home and abroad — Canada’s major federal parties respond

This is the first in a series of blog posts being published by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network ahead of Election Day on October 19, 2015. Recently, we sent a questionnaire to the five major federal parties, asking their position on key questions related to HIV and human rights. Four out of five parties responded. … Read more

Proud to Vote: LGBTQ Issues in the Federal Election

October 1, 2015 On September 24 in Toronto, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) issues were front and centre on the campaign trail as the Dignity Initiative (co-founded by the Legal Network) co-hosted “Proud to Vote: LGBTQ Issues in the Federal Election.” September 24 also marked the launch of the Dignity Initiative’s Call to … Read more

#JustSayNyet: Say No to Russia’s Drug Policy

September 28, 2015 In Russia, discriminatory drug policies and their practical applications continue to fuel the spread of HIV by targeting those least able to defend themselves. The Russian government’s response to the world drug “problem” has been a distorted reflection of United Nations drug conventions. The result has been an ugly form of unrestricted … Read more

Researching the effects of surveillance on women living with HIV

Researching the effects of surveillance on women living with HIV September 2015 While media headlines focus on individuals prosecuted for alleged HIV non-disclosure, we know that the impacts of criminalizing HIV non-disclosure go far beyond those who are formally charged. I was therefore delighted to learn in April that our 3-year community-based research (CBR) proposal … Read more

Remembering Peter Collins, 1961–2015

August 17, 2015 The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is remembering Peter (Pete) Collins, an activist for the health and human rights of people in prison. Pete passed away from cancer on August 13, 2015, in Bath Institution near Kingston, Ontario, having been denied compassionate release by the Parole Board of Canada despite many appeals. Pete … Read more

Needle and syringe programs in prison: Why?

June 10, 2015 When we call on the Government of Canada to protect prisoners’ right to health by introducing prison-based needle and syringe programs, it is essential that the voices of people living in Canadian prisons be heard. Jarrod, a current federal prisoner, writes about how the Canadian government is failing to protect its prison … Read more

Prison Health Now: Needle and Syringe Programs in Canada’s Prisons

May 7, 2015 On April 30, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network co-hosted an ancillary event on this topic at the Annual Canadian Conference on HIV/AIDS Research (CAHR), along with the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN), Native Youth Sexual Health Network, Prisoners with HIV/AIDS Support Action Network (PASAN), and Ryerson University’s Department of Criminology. There’s a … Read more

ADVOCACY ACTION: Take action against Bill C-2, and put our communities first!

Today, Members of Parliament are expected to vote on Bill C-2, the so-called Respect for Communities Act. This bill attacks the human rights of people who use drugs, impeding their access to life-saving harm reduction services. If it becomes law, Bill C-2 would create an onerous, unreasonable process for health authorities and community agencies seeking … Read more

Adding fuel to the fire: How Russia’s discriminatory laws are worsening the HIV epidemic

February 26, 2015 Despite widespread recognition that the so-called “war on drugs” has failed, we continue to read stories from around the world of the unjust criminalization, discrimination and the dehumanization of people who use drugs. In Russia, bad laws that infringe the rights of people who use drugs are fueling the HIV epidemic. People who … Read more

Video: Putting human rights into human hands in Russian-speaking countries

Russia has the world’s fastest-growing HIV epidemic, driven by injection-drug use, and fuelled by discrimination, criminalization and horrific human rights abuses. This video — produced by the Levi Strauss Foundation’s HIV Advocates program — lays out the work of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network in Russia and other Russian-speaking countries. Our goal, as Senior Policy … Read more

Video: Empowering through networks in Russian-speaking countries

How does a researcher at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network in Toronto defend the human rights of a person who uses drugs in Russia? Through indispensable partner organizations and the initiative of people who use drugs empowered to stand up for their own rights. In this video produced by the Open Society Foundations, Senior Policy … Read more

Letter to Canadian premiers re: Bill C-36

“We are deeply concerned with the new criminal provisions introduced by the so-called Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act,

Punishing condition: Richard Elliott and Michael Orsini on why the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure is a step backwards

The following op-ed was published in the November 24, 2014 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press. Michael Orsini is director of the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies and associate professor in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. Richard Elliott is executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. We’ve made great … Read more