Protesters from ACT UP and the NHS Anti-Swindle Team have protested at the Bohemian Rhapsody premier today

(C) Levi Hinds

Protesters from two pressure groups have disrupted the Bohemian Rhapsody launch calling for HIV treatment that is “comprehensive and easily accessible treatment for all people, in all countries”.

The film, which features Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury has also attracted criticism for its “pacification and sanitisation” of the singer’s life. Freddie Mercury died in 1991 from complications from AIDS just days after he announced that he was living with the disease.

The film and particularly the trailer has received a great deal of attention for its meagre perception of the huge contribution that sexuality, the AIDS crisis and the stigma associated had on Freddie Mercury’s life.

Speaking about the decision to protest, Hywel ap Dafydd said, “Queen was the soundtrack of my childhood. Freddie died when I was twelve, it was the first time I heard of AIDS and HIV.

“I’ve been living with HIV for the past eight years thanks to medication that came too late to safe Freddie and the millions of people who died because of AIDS.

“There’s a drug called PrEP which stops people from catching HIV but the NHS rations it so not everyone who needs it can get it. “It’s disgraceful that the NHS denies people this opportunity that neither I nor Freddie had.”

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Jeremy Goldstein from ACT UP LONDON said, “Freddie ‘Killer Queen’ Mercury was a migrant who died from AIDS and today HIV+ migrants are some of the most oppressed in the HIV / AIDS community. We are here today to highlight the ongoing crisis. Farrokh Bulsara was professionally known as Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar in 1946. The son of Parsis, he spent most of his childhood at boarding school in India. At seventeen he and his family became refugees fleeing from the Zanzibar revolution. After an epic career with Queen Freddie sadly died in 1991 his home in Kensington the day after he publicly announced he was living with HIV. We demand that all HIV+ migrants are treated with upmost dignity, that HIV services stop being closed down and an end to all illegal detention of HIV+ migrants.”

(C) Levi Hinds

“Greedy pharmaceutical”

Han Smith from ACT UP LONDON said, “Much has changed since then but our sexual health is still under pressure. Due to price gouging by greedy pharmaceutical companies, our NHS rations access to new medication for Hep C and HIV while yet another sexual health service bites the dust. We want access to HIV and Hep C drugs for all. We want stigma education for all. We want sexual health clinics for all. We want it all and we want it now.”

Kenza Simon from  ACT UP LONDON added, “I am eighteen and I am involved in Act Up London because it is very important for me to fight for our rights. As an LGBT woman who was born in a century where AIDS medicine is more accessible for people, I feel lucky but I realise that we still have a lot to do even in 2018. Our aims changed, AIDS not. This is the reason why I want to be dedicated to this struggle. Activism change the world, let’s do this.”

Four decades on and we’re still fighting

dan glass, ACT UP reminded us, “In the fourth decade of this crisis, ACT UP LONDON fight to ensure comprehensive and easily accessible treatment for all people, in all countries.  This includes not only medications but also mental and social health services as well as housing and economic equality. Here in the UK, we are united with the coalition of activists fighting to keep our National Health Service free, publicly run, and fully funded. In a time of continuing stigma, silence, and isolation, we combat discrimination against and promote the visibility and leadership of those living with HIV and AIDS – including this hugely important biography of our icon Freddie Mercury.”