Bill Clinton was heckled by activists at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam on Friday while he was giving a speech.
Walking down the center aisle with red umbrellas, protesters demanded the decriminalization, respect and protection of sex workers and drug users – while also vehemently opposing the location of the next conference scheduled for San Francisco in 2020.
The world needs to understand that sex workers, LGBTIQ+ members, people living with HIV, drug users and all the key populations are HUMANS. We need global policies that protect them from discrimination.
Voices being raised during @BillClinton speech. #AIDS2018 pic.twitter.com/Hp0mhTkm8P
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Clinton responded to the protesters objection to San Francisco as the venue for 2020, telling them: “You should also know for those of us who care about this issue in the United States, it is a sacred place. Many people died and all the first battles were fought, and they died some more. So I think when you get there, you’ll be glad they held the conference in San Francisco.”
“The decision to bring the International AIDS Conference to the U.S.A in 2020 reflects a gross disregard to the expressed requests of gay men, people who use drugs, and sex workers that the conference be hosted in a country where our participation is possible,” said George Ayala, executive director of MPACT Global Action for Gay Men’s Health and Rights, in a statement earlier this week.
Matthew Hodson, of the HIV-information website AIDS map and who was attending the conference told PinkNews that the audience were broadly sympathetic to the protesters’ aims.
He said: “I couldn’t put a figure on it, but they received very warm applause from the delegates and they also received applause from President Clinton too.
“I do think it’s problematic that they are planning on holding the next conference in San Francisco, I’m very concerned that key populations will be discouraged from attending. –Pink News
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Meanwhile, Clinton’s stop in Amsterdam came as a surprise to locals:
I just walked passed Bill Clinton in Amsterdam what the fuck lmaooo
— lil taco ???????? (@LivJohnston_) July 26, 2018
A visit last year drew similar reactions:
I just saw Bill Clinton in Amsterdam and I have never been more confused in my life pic.twitter.com/vuVpLQ672a
— Owen Tracy (@Owen_Patrick17) February 6, 2017