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Sexual Health: Intersections in politics and society

ucyow3c18 November 2014

pencil-icon Written by Michael Espinoza, PhD candidate, UCL Institute of the Americas

HIV virology testing form“By then, it was too late to hate him [for being gay].” – a self-described ‘former gay-basher’ reveals how he unknowingly befriended a gay man.

This testimonial, part of a research project by Dr Richard Mole (UCL School of Slavonic Studies and Eastern European Studies), shows how a lack of human understanding can dictate how people relate to others whom they perceive as ‘different’. The difference in this instance involved sexuality and its relation to sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The first presenter was Professor Jonathan Bell (UCL Institute of the Americas), whose paper was titled The Economic Closet: healthcare, sexuality, and the politics of respectability during the AIDS crisis.

Professor Bell discussed how healthcare politics in the 1980s saw gay rights leaders face two difficulties – one was the struggle against private health insurance companies and the other was the attempt to “adapt the socially-regressive and gendered New Deal safety net to their needs”.

Not only did they have to accept that HIV positive gay men “had to be classified as disabled and unable to work to be entitled to welfare”, they also had to fight against profit-driven private health insurance companies who sought to portray HIV positive gay men as unproductive citizens who have “sexually promiscuous lifestyles” in order to deny their claims.

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Violence, the state and civil society in Mexico

ucyow3c14 November 2014

pencil-icon Written by Anna Tyor, International Relations MSc

Javier Trevino-Rangel, a professor at the Centre for Research and Teaching in Economics in Mexico City, went from city to city in Mexico interviewing middle class residents about violence in their communities and heard the same responses over and over again, all over the country: “The media blows things out of proportion”; “We need more reliable information”; and “I just skip this section in the newspaper”.

As we shifted chairs to make room for a growing audience, five distinguished speakers anxiously looked around the room hoping to address these issues by explaining challenging topics in Mexico including drug trade, militarisation of the state, rural violence, social media and human rights.

Following the disappearance of dozens of student teachers in the southern state of Guerrero, Mexico and the world cried out in protest after the discovery of mass shallow graves filled with their singed bodies. This poignant talk convened by the Radical Americas Network at the UCL Institute of the Americas came in light of these recent murders and attempted to shed light on who is to blame for such atrocities.

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