On December 26, 2013 the President of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) Andrew Hunter died unexpectedly. Andrew was a founding member of the NSWP and the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Work Projects (APNSW). A gathering in Bangkok is planned to remember Andrew on January 18, 2014. Those who are unable to travel to Thailand are invited to donate towards the cost of the ceremony.
We at A KISS FOR GABRIELA knew Andrew for well over 15 years and saw him frequently at events in defense of the rights of sex workers. Laura had a chance to catch up with Andrew during the Sex Worker Freedom Festival in Kolkata in July 2012, an event organized as an alternative to the International AIDS Conference in Washington DC that sex workers, drug users and many trans people could not attend because of the US government’s irrational immigration restrictions. Andrew, always organizing and pushing for rights, noted during the festival at a press conference that sex workers were “extremely disappointed that [US government officials] refuse to revise their restrictions on sex workers and refuse to recognise that we are human beings with basic rights.” In September of 2013 in a piece published in Tits and Sass, Andrew recalled how sex workers and drug users were united at the Freedom Festival saying, “we invited INPUD to run sessions, and we made spaces for drug users who were banned entry to the US conference in DC to come to Kolkata, and it was really great. There was lots of learning on both sides.” In early 2012, Penelope spent a day holed up in an ice encrusted hotel in Montreux, Switzerland, with Andrew and numerous other sex worker rights advocates from around the globe as they worked to succinctly define key health and policy questions with some multilateral agencies. Andrew was absolutely clear that day as he was every other day of his life that global agencies are accountable to the people, the facts and the rights of sex workers.
In 2013 with the loss of both Gabriela Leite and Andrew Hunter, we are reminded that our leaders may only be with us for a short time, that the struggle for rights can take its toll, but that ultimately with our combined energy we will win justice. They would not expect us to do any less than that.
We have gathered some of the statements that moved us from folks all around the world who are remembering Andrew.
My chalice is lit in my quiet place this morning to honour his life. I shall miss him as a friend. We have lost a leader in the sex worker rights movement. My red umbrella is in fold. So I say hamba kahle now to a comrade. Rest in peace Andrew Hunter. NgoXolo amaQabane. Shane Petzer, founder of SWEAT, former coordinator of NSWP, December 26, 2013
The global AIDS movement has lost a great advocate and activist who was a phenomenal force of energy. Andrew was a courageous champion of sex worker-led HIV programming. We will miss his vision, energy and compassion. Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, Geneva, December 27, 2013
I first met Andrew almost ten years ago in Bangkok. He was terribly funny and terrifyingly smart, truly a force to be reckoned with. We were very lucky to have had the opportunity to know him and work with him. His expertise informed many of Urgent Action Fund’s rapid-response grants to human rights defenders over the years, positively impacting organizations that will continue to thrive through the movement that he so fearlessly led. Kate Kroeger, Urgent Action Fund’s Executive Director, January 3, 2014
We got to know Andrew Hunter as a true activist, outspoken and intelligent. Andrew Hunter will be missed deeply. However, his contribution to the HIV response and the sex work movement will live on. Bridging the Gaps, January 7, 2014