It has been announced by the organisers of the 2006 Chicago Gay Games that HIV positive participants and spectators are to be allowed into the United States during the Games.

Controversially, the United States normally bans travel to that country by HIV positive foreigners.

A waiver has been approved allowing non-U.S. citizens living with HIV/AIDS to travel to the United States only if they are to participate in or attend the Gay Games 2006.

The Federation of Gay Games (FGG), and Chicago Games, Inc. (CGI), announced that the waiver comes with federal approval of ‘Designated Event Status’ for the Gay Games VII Sports & Cultural Festival. The event is set to take place between the 15th and 22nd of July 2006 in Chicago, Illinois.

“Many people with HIV/AIDS and other life-affecting health issues have competed and set Masters-division records at past Gay Games, and we are happy that all participants from outside the United States once again will be able to travel freely to attend the Gay Games this summer,” said Kathleen Webster, co-president of the international Federation of Gay Games.

HIV positive participants and attendees of Gay Games VII can now apply for a single entry B-2 travel visa from their local U.S. consulate. The visa, valid between 8 and 28 July 2006, will be issued on a special form instead of being placed permanently in the person’s passport.

A similar waiver was issued by the US federal government for the New York Gay Games in 1994.

“Achieving Designated Event Status demonstrates our dedication to the Gay Games principles of participation, inclusion and personal best and to our mission advocating for full acceptance and recognition of all LGBT people,” said Brian McGuinness, Gay Games Executive Director.

The Gay Games take place every four years in a different city, with more than 12,000 athletes from 100 counties expected to attend the Chicago Games this year.

Information regarding procedures on how to apply for the B-2 visa at U.S. consulates in different countries will be available shortly on the immigration pages of the Chicago Gay Games Web site.

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