A recommendation to outlaw amyl nitrite – poppers – has left Australia’s LGBTI community in uproar.
The Therapeutic Goods Adminstration (TGA) published an interim decision to ban poppers on 14 September. It recommended to move nitrite inhalants onto Schedule 9 of the Poisons Standard – the same schedule as heroin.
Poppers are inhaled for either recreational drug purposes or more popularly in the LGBTI community to enhance sex.
It may soon be illegal to sell, possess, use or administer poppers, with the punishment dependent on individual state laws.
In its ruling the TGA recommended the ban because the ‘misuse and abuse’ of poppers is more widespread in ‘particular sections of the community’.
‘There is a high potential for misuse and abuse of amyl nitrites for euphoric properties, and as sex aids due to their muscle relaxant properties,’ the decision read.
The TGA also wanted to ban poppers because Australian ophthalmologists have reported an increase in cases of maculopathies (retinal damage). Poppers allegedly caused these cases.
The LGBTI community are the main users of poppers, but a 2015 study revealed a 21% jump of use among the general population in Australia. In its decision the TGA cited cited that increase as a reason to ban poppers.
‘The TGA are completely ignoring the queer experience of poppers and don’t give a shit about us, so yeah the straights are ruining it for us but the TGA also couldn’t care less about us,’ one advocate said.
‘This decision, if successful, will criminalise most instances of gay sex and will disproportionately affect the LGBTIQ community that has so long relied on amyl/poppers to enjoy receptive sex comfortably,’ he said.
‘We are adults that engage in consensual sex within the privacy of our own homes and the government has absolutely no place to tell us we’re criminals in doing so.’
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