Pat Robertson has been no major ally to the gay community, but a bizarre and wholly unsupported claim he made on his popular 700 Club program regarding gay men, AIDS infection, and secret decoder rings to spread HIV takes the cake in terms of hateful rhetoric.
The precipitate for Pat Robertson’s AIDS and gay mens’ rings claim comes after a call in segment with viewers and a completely unrelated question.
A viewer calls in to discuss the ethical considerations of AIDS and disclosure, concerned about traveling in a vehicle with a person who had contracted HIV and developed AIDS as a result.
The viewer expresses concern about infection via accident, a circumstance which is incredibly unlikely. Robertson says as much, telling the caller:
“What to say if you’re driving an elderly man whose got AIDS? Don’t have sex with them. Unless there’s a cut or some bodily fluid transmission, I think you’re not going to catch it.”
Robertson could have stopped there and answered the viewer’s question in full, but instead, it all got very weird.
The televangelist then claims he “thinks” there are oppressive laws created by gay people (who, as far as we know, have no authority to draft, pass, or enforce laws as a group) forbidding the disclosure of HIV infection or allowing for subterfuge when it comes to the disease overall.
“There are laws now, I think the homosexual community has put these draconian laws on the books that prohibit people from discussing this particular affliction, you can tell somebody you had a heart attack, you can tell them they’ve got high blood pressure, but you can’t tell anybody you’ve got AIDS.”
The TV preacher doesn’t stop there, however, adding that not only are gay men in particular concealing HIV infections and AIDS diagnoses, but that they are spreading the potentially fatal blood and bodily fluid borne infection through the use of special rings designed to transmit the virus to unwitting individuals.
In San Francisco, of course:
“You know what they do in San Francisco, some in the gay community there they want to get people so if they got the stuff they’ll have a ring, you shake hands, and the ring’s got a little thing where you cut your finger. Really. It’s that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder.”
UPDATE: Joe. My. God. has a statement from Pat Robertson, clarifying that the remarks made suggesting gay men deliberately infect people with HIV through special rings is allegedly information he learned from a friend of a friend many years ago:
“I was asked by a viewer whether she had a right to leave her church because she had been asked to transport an elderly man who had AIDS and about whose condition she had not been informed. My advice was that the risk of contagion in those circumstances was quite low and that she should continue to attend the church and not worry about the incident.
“In my own experience, our organization sponsored a meeting years ago in San Francisco where trained security officers warned me about shaking hands because, in those days, certain AIDS-infected activists were deliberately trying to infect people like me by virtue of rings which would cut fingers and transfer blood.
“I regret that my remarks had been misunderstood, but this often happens because people do not listen to the context of remarks which are being said. In no wise (sic) were my remarks meant as an indictment of the homosexual community or, for that fact, to those infected with this dreadful disease.”
Watch above as Pat Robertson explains his theory on gay men and AIDS rings, above.