Pro-Family Groups Respond to 'Anti-Abstinence' AIDS Activist Protests

Pro-family groups based in Washington responded to "anti-abstinence" AIDS activists who protested near their headquarters, disrupting workers in one instance by entering an office building.

Up to 20 protesters entered the headquarters building of the Family Research Council in Washington “carrying placards, chanting anti-abstinence slogans, and demanding condom distribution,” according to FRC President Tony Perkins. Nearly 200 protesters also approached the offices of Concerned Women for America nearby with a similar message.

“This small group of activists cannot silence those who proclaim the undeniable reality that abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage are the only formula for ‘safe sex,’” said Perkins, in a released statement.

In addition, the protesters yelled “Hateful!” and “Ignorant!” referring to statements Perkins had made against homosexual sexual activity and drug needle distribution. Some of the protesters marched in circles wearing full-body condoms, according to Family News in Focus.

“The Family Research Council has opposed policies that are based on science that would end AIDS, and supported policies that would further the AIDS epidemic,” said Charles King, chairman of Campaign to Ends AIDS, who led the protesters.

According to FRC’s Peter Sprigg, however, the organization promotes abstinence and encourages abstinence from homosexual behavior to bring an ends to AIDS.

“They say we’re in denial because we believe people can abstain. Well, in fact, they’re in denial in not recognizing that only abstinence can be fully effective,” said the FRC vice president of policy.

Nine people were arrested in the protest.

At the headquarters of the CWA – which is a few hundred yards from the White House – around 150 to 200 protesters gathered in a nearby park, according to Robert Knight, Director of the Culture and Family Institute at CWA who saw the protestors from the balcony of his office.

Knight was unapologetic about his organization’s call for abstinence-only education for youth.

“Guilty as charged,” said Knight, in a webcast found on the CWA web site.

While protesters claimed that the policy had helped increase HIV infection, Knight defended the policy, saying that acquainting the youth “with every form of contraceptive, every way of preventing AIDS” by showing all the ways it can be contracted “ends up promoting that behavior.”

The logic of protesters, he said was that if kids were “going to do it anyway ... you’re condemning them to death because you’re not going to provide them with the condoms that might save their lives.”

Knight also said protesters had falsely stated that CWA credited abstinence-only programs with lowering the incidence of AIDS in Uganda.

“In Uganda the abstinence program is called ABC. Abstinence, Be faithful, and Condoms as a last resort,” he said. “Uganda has the lowest AIDS rate in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Protesters also said that CWA recommended stripping funds from international HIV prevention programs that refuse to condemn sex workers, according to Knight.

“Let me translate for you,” he said. “CWA doesn’t support aiding and abetting prostitution. We support trying to get women out of that profession and saving their lives that way and not making it easier for them to ply their trade.”