Press and Media
“G AWARE: OUR LIVES DEPEND ON IT” CAMPAIGN
On St Valentine’s Day 2020, the Gay Men's Health Collective (GMHC) is releasing four 30-second film messages on social media to raise awareness of the potential dangers associated with “G”, particularly the risk of “spiked” drinks and lubricants used in sexual assaults.
GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) and GBL (gamma-Butyrolactone) are known collectively known as “G". They are used recreationally and consensually to facilitate and enhance sex. "Spiking” is when alcohol or drugs are added to someone’s drink without their knowledge with the intention of sexual assault or rape. Most recently, G has been added to lubricants for sex.
There is concern in the press and media, and by the police, about the evolving use of G for spiking. There are reported cases of sexual assaults combined with other crimes, including theft and burglary. This is against the background of many personal accounts, and the convictions of Stephen Port and Gerald Matovu for murder, and Reynhard Sinaga for multiple rapes.
These 30-second film messages aim to encourage users and non-users alike to be aware of the dangers and reduce the risk of drug harms. Believed to be the first in the UK, the campaign has been created by gay men with direct knowledge and experience of recreational drug use; and problematic drug use, withdrawal, and recovery. Other organisations have welcomed the campaign and this work:
"This campaign is long overdue, very welcome and resonates with our priorities. We hope this campaign will give much needed practical and useful advice to our community which is often overlooked, or our issues trivialised." LGBT+ Independent Advisory Group.
“The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) recognises that crime in a Chemsex context is not an isolated issue of sexual offending or substance misuse. Chemsex related vulnerability and offending are considerably under-reported, levels of complexity are vast, and the overwhelming nature of the scene can negatively impact on many aspects of a participant’s life. The MPS LGBT+ Advisory Group have described Chemsex as the ‘crisis of our time’ for LGBT+ communities and we know there have been more than 60 fatal overdoses linked to GHB / GBL in London alone.
From a policing perspective, crime in a Chemsex context can incorporate elements of sexual offending, vulnerability, substance misuse, child sexual exploitation (CSE) and mental ill-health.
The MPS and the National Prison and Probation Service have established the London Chemsex Working Group (LCWG) with the aims of reducing harm and vulnerability relating to Chemsex, raising awareness amongst professionals of Chemsex in order to increase identification of Chemsex cases, encouraging information sharing between agencies to identify and safeguard those whom are vulnerable and to enhance the strategic coordination at a London level when responding to Chemsex incidents whilst promoting a public health response to Chemsex related issues.”
DCS Helen Lyons (MPS Lead Responsible Officer for Sexual Violence), Metropolitan Police Service
“GMHC is an innovative organisation of driven and enthusiastic volunteers, who succeed over and over again in tackling the complex chemsex phenomenon with the right tone of voice, always finding a balance between a humorous and serious non-judgemental approach. Mainline's chemsex team absolutely supports this taboo-breaking campaign.”
Mainline Chemsex Team, Amsterdam, Netherlands
"I am charmed by GMHC and their work. The love and attention they show toward people engaged in chemsex has been highlighted at the 3rd European Chemsex Forum in Paris. I encourage you to share their tools with those who may benefit.”
Ben Collins, International HIV Partnerships, the European Chemsex Forum Secretariat
GMHC volunteers have developed these messages to actively engage gay men in chemsex harm reduction; a response, in part, to what they believe is a lack of up-to-date content by some organisation websites with safer chemsex information. This is based on two recent reviews which found virtually no mention of drink or lubricant spiking.
“We actively encourage our colleagues and partners in the chemsex field to review and update their safer chemsex information, ensuring gay men are provided with consistent harm reduction, signposting, advice and support”. Patriic Gayle, GMHC
The videos will be promoted through social media, and include signposting to safer drug use information and support at www.menrus.co.uk
Campaign film messages
Safer chemsex harm reduction messages
To reduce the risks of using G and mindful of potential drug harms GMHC recommends:
- Measure, check and drink your own doses of G and don’t leave drinks unattended
- If you come back to a drink later throw it away, wait an hour before dosing again, starting slowly
- Take a supply of your own lubricant if playing with a partner(s) for the first time
- Ensure consent is given freely and safe words are agreed
- Seek help if you think you’ve been a victim of spiking/ sexual assault/ robbery
Further information and resources
Sex Drugs and Murder | Dispatches | Channel 4 | 8 September 2019
A warning has been issued that rapists are mixing the drug GHB with lubricant | Patrick Strudwick | BuzzFeed UK LGBT | 8 Sep 2019
Reynhard Sinaga | Wikipedia
Reynhard Sinaga: Attorney general to review rapist's' sentence | BBC News | 15 Jan 2020
Detectives investigate new allegations against rapist Reynhard Sinaga | The Guardian | 10 Jan 2020
Stephen Port | Wikipedia
Stephen Port: The killer the police missed | BBC News
Serial killer Stephen Port receives whole-life prison sentence | The Guardian | 25 Nov 2016
Gerald Matovu (mentioned under Eric Michels) | Wikipedia
Serial killer's dealer jailed for Grindr murder | BBC News | 11 Sep 2019
Serial killer's drug dealer jailed for actor's murder | The Guardian | 11 Sep 2019
Exasperated by questionable and unrewarding Internet search results, we’re a group of volunteer gay men who want health, life, and well-being stuff in one place. www.menrus.co.uk is an independent free-access gay men's health website that joins up the dots of our needs and a hub for further support and information.
It's our take on what it is to be gay today. It’s not perfect, it’s sometimes messy, but it’s ours! www.menrus.co.uk is part of the GMHC which also makes films on gay men's health issues and films for our allies and the wider LGBT+ community and produces safer chemsex packs to reduce the transmission of blood-borne infections and other drug harms.
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