Recent Anti-Gay Remark To HIV/AIDS Nurses Proves Disturbing Pattern Of Discrimination, Homophobia

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The group of HIV/AIDS health care advocates to lobby on looming changes for people living with HIV/AIDS, had no idea that Hays made his anti-gay sentiments known to a group of university students asking for support of an anti-bullying bill three months prior.

Hays' response to the student group's request that he back language in the bill that that included sexual orientation was that "homosexuals repulse" him and that gays "should seek extensive psychological treatment."

In the brief meeting with 5 or so HIV/AIDS nurses who asked legislators to not cut funding to HIV/AIDS Medicaid programs, Hays remarked, "I had a cousin who died of AIDS. He was as queer as a three-dollar bill. He had that homosexual lifestyle and deserved what he got." Several of the lobbying group in his office heard his comments.

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In both instances, Hays denied making such remarks. In a prepared statement from his office, Hays claims he is known for being plain spoken and speaking his mind. He also acknowledges that his cousin did die from AIDS and that his death was a tragedy. Regardless, the nurses and HIV/AIDS patients to whom Hays' remark was directed want Governor Charlie Crist to intervene and condemn his inappropriate slur. AIDS advocates are also urging concerned citizens in Florida and nationwide to contact to Representative Hays directly and express their outrage at his remarks.

"We are again asking Governor Crist to repudiate the homophobic and AIDS-phobic remarks Representative Hays made to AIDS advocates and patients who were simply lobbying him in his state office on Wednesday," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "Representative Hays' proven record of insensitivity to gays through inappropriate remarks is troubling. It is especially concerning because he sits on, or chairs, several key state and health committees. We are asking Governor Crist, Republican leaders and the entire Florida Legislature to condemn these remarks and help educate and inform this unenlightened legislator."

Hays serves as Vice-Chair of the Health Quality Committee, and sits on the Audit & Performance Committee, the Healthcare Committee, and the Joint Administrative Procedures Commission.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the nation's oldest and largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare, research, prevention and education provider. It also operates Positive Healthcare, a successful and cost-effective HIV/AIDS disease management program serving over 8,000 Florida Medicaid recipients for the past eight years.

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