Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Independent gay activist GARY BURNS has lodged a complaint with NSW Police Commissioner ANDREW SCIPIONE over the advertising of illegal drugs in a Sydney gay magazine.
SX News, the weekly gay magazine published by the Evolution Publishing group, is openly advertising the sale of amyl nitrate (aka ‘poppers’).
Advertisements for the ‘Rush Popper Shop’ appear in the magazine, featuring prominent links to the URL where brands of amyl nitrate such as Rush, Ram, Colt and Jungle Juice are sold. 
Amyl nitrate is used medically for certain heart conditions, but is illegal in NSW without a doctor’s prescription.
In some sections of the gay community, amyl nitrate is used recreationally during sexual intercourse, for its side effect of relaxing anal sphincter muscles. 
The drug is on the Poisons List and is illegal in NSW under Section 16 of Poisons and Therapeutic Drugs Act, which makes it an offence to possess a prescribed restricted substance without a lawful excuse.
Harmful side effects of amyl nitrate can include headaches, heart attacks, brain damage and death. 
Gary Burns said he had lodged the complaint out of concern for his community.
“Young gay men pick up this magazine for free from cafes, bars, pubs and nightclubs all over Sydney,” he said.
“They may not be aware of the possibility of serious side effects from amyl, and my fear is that some of them could be encouraged to buy these dangerous products.
“That is of course the aim of advertising – to get people to buy the product.
“This product should not be advertised anywhere. It can kill you. And the thing about being dead is that you don’t suddenly wake up and ask, ‘What’s for dinner, Mum?’ It’s forever.”
Mr Burns alleged that the advertising of illegal drugs in SX News was part of a wider drug culture at Evolution Publishing.
The group’s publisher, PETER WALTON, is currently facing serious drug charges for the possession of crystal meth and GHB.
Walton will appear at Sydney’s Downing Centre Criminal Court on Tuesday, June 28 to face the charges.
Mr Burns called on advertisers to withdraw their support from the magazine in light of the magazine’s promotion of drug culture.
“In the latest issue of SX we see organisations like Audi, Hunter Holden, the City of Sydney, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Swans supporting the magazine.
“I ask these organisations: Do you really want to be involved with a publication where the publisher is facing serious drug charges and possibly jail time, and where the magazine itself is advertising illicit substances that can kill you?
“Next, they’ll be advertising eccies to sprinkle on your Weeties in the morning instead of sugar,” Mr Burns concluded.
Media enquiries:
Gary Burns
Further information: Rush Popper Shop advertisement appears on page 44 of current issue (SX # 545, June 20) and in all back issues this year. 
Evolution Publisher Peter Walton is due to appear at Downing Centre Criminal Court 9.30am Tuesday, June 28. 


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

City Voice Publisher Peter Walton

Well-known Sydney gay activist GARY BURNS has called on the the gay community to reform itself as the community is rocked by yet another high-profile drug scandal.
PETER WALTON, the publisher of all seven titles owned by Evolution Publishing – Australia’s largest gay and lesbian publishing house – has been charged with possession of illicit drugs and is due to appear in court on June 28.
Walton, the publisher of SX News (Sydney), City Voice (Sydney), MCV (Melbourne), Blaze(Adelaide), Queensland PrideAXN (the national gay men’s magazine) and Cherrie (the national lesbian magazine) will appear at Sydney’s Downing Centre Criminal Court at 9.30am on Tuesday, June 28 after allegedly being caught in possession of 3.5 grams of crystal meth and an undisclosed quantity of GHB.
The arrest of Walton, who lives in the Harry Seidler-designed Horizon Building (aka Sydney’s ‘tower of power’), marks the latest in a long tine of gay community drug scandals, said Mr Burns.
“Earlier this year we had the unsavoury prospect of ACON*, our self-proclaimed gay and lesbian health and wellbeing organisation, putting out a ‘how to take drugs’ guide, which drew national and international negative publicity for our community.,” he said.
“Every year we have a host of Mardi Gras drug busts, with huge quantities of crystal meth, GHB, ecstasy, cocaine and all sorts of other drugs seized” he added.
“Evolution Publishing itself rose from the ashes of Satellite Media in 2005, which was the brainchild of gay media tycoon GREG FISHER, who’s cooling his heels in jail on drug charges until 2012.”
Mr Burns said he was tired of his community being associated with illegal drugs and called on the collective community to clean up its act.
“Frankly, I’m sick to death of it and I’m embarrassed,” he said.
“All this rampant drug-taking by Gay Inc. gives a very bad example for young gays and lesbians, who understandably form the impression that illegal drugs are an essential part of being gay,” he said.
“We as a community need to put the crystal pipe down, flush the eccies down the toilet, throw the syringes away and take a good hard look at ourselves.
“Not only for our own good but for the good of the next generation.”
Burns added that he had heard rumours for years about rampant drug-taking at Evolution Publishing, and called on advertisers – including the NSW Government – to stop propping it up.
“The biggest single advertiser in Evolution Publishing is ACON, which is funded almost entirely by the NSW Government,” said Mr Burns.
“This means NSW taxpayers are propping these dance bunny drug takers up.
“I ask the taxpayers of NSW: is this how you want your hard-earned taxes to be spent?
“No, I didn’t think so.”
Media enquiries:
* ACON was formerly known as the AIDS Council of NSW. 
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Sydney activist GARY BURNS has again called for ACON (formerly known as the AIDS Council of NSW) to be shut down, after confirmation that notorious convicted paedophile GEOFFREY LEONARD has been using its facilities.

Mr Burns was approached late last year by several gay community members who had expressed concern that Leonard – who has previously been convicted of raping two minors, and who has advocated a legal age of consent of “at birth” – had been attending workshops at ACON’s premises run by the ‘Sydney Gay Freethinkers’ friendship and support group.

Leonard was attending the Sydney Gay Freethinkers workshop held at ACON’s premises on Monday nights, it was alleged.

ACON, which is funded by taxpayers to the tune of $11.1 million per annum, funds the Sydney Gay Freethinkers through its ‘Hand in Hand’ program and also provides in-kind support such as the use of ACON’s meeting rooms.

ACON CEO NICHOLAS PARKHILL denied the reports at the time, claiming Leonard had never used ACON’s facilities or even been there.

However in a new development, Mr Parkhill has admitted to NSW Health that Leonard had been attending the Sydney Gay Freethinkers workshops at ACON.

In a latter to Mr Burns, DR KERRY CHANT, Deputy Director-General, Population Health and Chief Health Officer, NSW Health, said: “I am advised that the Chief Executive Officer of ACON, Mr Nicolas Parkhill, received confirmation from the coordinator of the ‘Sydney Gay Freethinkers’ group that Mr Geoffrey Leonard was dismissed from the group over two years ago and has not participated in the group since that time.” (See attached letter.)

Mr Burns said ACON kept changing its story, having previously denied Leonard had ever been there at all.

“When I first raised these concerns, ACON’s CEO Nicolas Parkhill said Leonard had never been there. He has maintained that Leonard has never been there. Now he’s telling NSW Health Leonard has been using their premises but not for two years.

“ACON’s excuses keep shifting around like deck chairs on the Titanic. My information is that Geoffrey Leonard has been attending until six months ago, when I first started asking questions.

“ACON must come clean about exactly when and why rock spiders like Geoffrey Leonard have been at ACON.”

Mr Burns said the issue disturbed him because Leonard was not a member of the gay community, and Leonard’s use of gay community facilities reinforced outdated and offensive stereotypes about links between gay men and paedophilia.

Geoffrey Leonard is not a gay man. He is a paedophile,” said Mr Burns.

“Our community has had to battle for many years stereotypes that gay men are kiddie fiddlers. Yet our self-appointed gay government, ACON, is reinforcing these stereotypes by giving succour to people like Geoffrey Leonard. Why?”

Mr Burns also challenged ACON’s attempt to distance itself from the Sydney Gay Freethinkers group.

“ACON has tried to make out that they have nothing to do with the Sydney Gay Freethinkers group, but the fact is they allow the so-called Freethinkers to use ACON’s premises at 7.30pm each Monday.

“ACON also provides funding to the group through its Hand in Hand programme, which funds community groups.

“This means the NSW taxpayers are funding it, because ACON is funded by NSW Health money and other government grants.”

Mr Burns also challenged ACON’s assertion that there was “no impropriety in [Sydney Gay Freethinkers’] use of ACON premises”.

“How would they know what’s going on at these meetings?” asked Mr Burns.

“They could be grooming young boys for sex. For all they know, Jack the Ripper could be there. Unless ACON is monitoring the meetings, they’d have no idea what goes on there.”

The latest scandal for ACON comes after last month’s bad publicity for the organisation when Burns and other activists questioned ACON’s finances, and a ‘how to use illegal drugs’ guide called Routes of Administration” drew widespread outrage.

As revealed in ACON’s 2009/10 financial report, ACON – which claims to be a ‘GLBT* health and wellbeing organisation’ – spent only $819, 872 on programs and services for the GLBT community, with the rest of its $12,638,998 budget going to areas such as salaries, administration, travel, and unspecified events and activities.

“Between its financial misappropriation, it’s so called harm minimisation guide which gives techniques for snorting, shafting and injecting drugs, and hosting convicted Geoffrey Leonard at workshops, I feel it’s time ACON was shut down and its health promotion work taken over directly by the NSW Government.

“ACON is exactly that – a con. It is a disgrace to our community.”

Acon Letter 1


Media contact:
Gary Burns
(02) 9363 0372
0407 910 309!/garyburnsblog

More information:

Sydney Gay Freethinkers meeting time and place:

ACON’s Hand in Hand program, which funds the Sydney Gay Freethinkers:

ACON’s Routes of Administration drug booklet:

A copy of ACON’s 2009/10 Financial Report can be accessed by visiting The report shows that of ACON’s $12,638,998 budget, 88 per cent ($11,145,901) comes from government grants via NSW Health, the NSW Department of Community Services and other government bodies.

Footage –

* GLBT = gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans.