Organisers of the Chicago Gay Games next July have sought to quell HIV-positive athletes’ concerns about United States entry regulations.
Non-US citizens living with HIV/AIDS cannot legally enter the US. Despite this, Gay Games organisers are confident the organisation can gain designated event status -“ or DES -“ allowing HIV-positive visitors to apply for a waiver.
When someone wants to comes to the US, normally they would have to check a box that said they had HIV and they would not be eligible, Chicago Gay Games co-vice chair Kevin Boyer told Sydney Star Observer.
They won’t have to do that [if the DES is granted].
The 1994 New York Gay Games, held under the Clinton administration, gained special event status. Chicago organisers expect the 2006 event will do the same -“ possibly within the next two months.
But some HIV-positive people have expressed concerns that entering the US on a waiver would be permanently recorded in their passport, possibly affecting entry to other countries. A permanent recording of a waiver application in the US customs system could affect future trips to the country.
Boyer told the Star it was his understanding a waiver document would be inserted or stapled into the passport, so it could be removed.
He also believed people would not have to say they had HIV when applying for a waiver, [but] until we have the information written down from the Department of Justice, we can’t confirm any of that.
The Gay Games co- vice chair acknowledged there was anger about the US HIV law. Canada, which will host rival event Outgames a week after the Chicago Gay Games close, does not have the same restrictions.
Boyer stressed the Gay Games did not support US HIV immigration policy, and hoped the event would boost the reform campaign.
Not only are we opposed to the law but we believe that the Gay Games affords a unique opportunity for the US public to see how the law is bad, Boyer said.
It provides an opportunity for people to see these courageous athletes participating actively and understand that they’re here and there’s not a risk to public health.
The Gay Games had about 4,500 confirmed registrations, with a further 2,000 pledged, Boyer said. About 9,500 people had signed up for Outgames as of November.