Vice President Mike Pence gave a speech for World AIDS Day on Thursday, addressing how the United States is fighting both nationwide and worldwide epidemic. But the vice president didn’t mention the population most affected by the crisis in the country, and now LGBT organizations are pointing out how Pence’s words don’t match his actions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, men who have sex with men made up 67 percent of new HIV cases in the United States in 2016. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has always disproportionately affected the LGBT community.
But Pence has fought against policies that benefit LGBT Americans for years. LBGT groups, such as the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal, pointed out Pence spoke out against practices proved to prevent the spread of the disease.
The Human Rights Campaign produced a video pointing out Pence’s past. The video shows that during the HIV/AIDS crisis, Pence spoke out against condom use and claimed they were ineffective in preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
When HIV/AIDS broke out in his own state of Indiana while he was governor, he refused to implement safe needle practices until the numbers reached a staggering high.
Watch the video below:
1/Today, Mike Pence, ??? ??? ????? ??? ?????? ??????? ?????? ?? ?????? ?? ??????? ???? ?????? ?? ??? ?????????? ??? ?????????, will deliver remarks at a World AIDS Day event at the White House. pic.twitter.com/myTGypFNev
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) November 29, 2018
So naturally, Pence being the key speaker for World AIDS Day raised eyebrows within the LGBT community. HRC president Chad Griffin tweeted that “Pence has put ideology before the health and lives of countless people.”
.@mike_pence marking #WorldAIDSDay right now is truly the height of hypocrisy. From spreading misinformation about condom use, to contributing to a major outbreak of HIV & AIDS in his home state, Pence has put ideology before the health & lives of countless people. #RealMikePence
— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) November 29, 2018
LGBT law group Lamba Legal rolled its eyes at the vice president.
VP Pence addressing the nation to mark #WorldAIDSDay is an absolute charade. This administration has done more to turn back the clock on access to health care than any in recent history.
But go on, tell us about how you really care about people living with #HIV/AIDS, Mike Pence. pic.twitter.com/vwPymda3OD
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) November 29, 2018
The local Planned Parenthood advocated form Pence’s home state served up some sarcasm for the vice president.
What's on his schedule tomorrow, a lecture on women's rights?
— Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana & Kentucky (@PPAdvocatesINKY) November 29, 2018
In his Thursday speech, Pence told the story of Ryan White, a boy diagnosed with HIV after a blood transfusion. Pence toted his support of the Ryan White Care Act that gave government support to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
In reality, according to the New York Times, Pence stated in 2000 he would only support the act if the government defunded groups that “celebrate and encourage types of behavior that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus” and suggested that money should be given to support conversion therapy, a scientifically discredited pseudoscience that tries to change people’s sexuality or gender identity.
Here was his statement on his website at the time:
Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.
Pence’s biggest point in his speech on Thursday was that the government would pour in money — $100 million, to be exact — to support “faith-based organizations and communities” that provide assistance in the fight against HIV/AIDS around the world. It is unclear if these organizations will be LGBT friendly.