By Peter J. Smith

Outgames Opening CeremonyMONTREAL, July 31, 2006 ( – Last Saturday, Montreal officially welcomed the 1st World Outgames, a forum for homosexual sports, where an estimated 12,000 participants and tens of thousands of spectatorsÂare expected. However, the Outgames, whose motto is “social change through sport”, seems to be most concerned about the social changeÂofÂan anticipated surge in infectious rates of sexually transmitted diseases, in a city where 15 percent of homosexual men are HIV positive.

The homosexual event has Montreal health-care officials scrambling to stockpile and advertise the availability of an emergency HIV-preventative drug in order to suppressÂfurther incidents of HIV infection in the city, reports CBC. Health-care officials have reportedly stockpiled Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), which can prevent HIV infection if it is started within 72 hours of sexual contact and is taken over a month-long course of treatment.

According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Dr. Rejean Thomas, president of the Clinique Medicale l’Actuel, said “Accidents can happen. We still know that on drugs or alcohol sometimes the safe behavior diminishes, so it’s like another alternative.”

Dr. Thomas’ clinic has launched an aggressive campaign to create awareness of the new drug, running television ads on both private and CBC English and French language stations in Montreal this week, and setting up posters prominently in the gay village and games venues. The posters show two athletic men standing in front of a rainbow flag, and say “Have you had a risky sexual relation? Did the condom break?… Do you know about PEP?”

The Outgames, rather than focusing on the sporting events and a high level of competition per se, are orientated insteadÂtoward broadcasting and promoting the homosexual lifestyle through sports. The Outgames’ 12,000 competitors are not “athletes” in the traditional understanding, but anyone fromÂany of the 60 countries participating who registered and paid a fee to join in the Montreal games.

“The issue is that homophobia is still a major issue in sport—it’s not something that’s talked about a lot,” said homosexual Canadian Olympian Mark Tewksbury, the event’s co-president, to CTV’s Canada AM on Friday. “So the point of this event is to bridge the gap between the gay sport movement and the traditional sport movement.”

The games themselves have emphasized, however, that not only is homosexuality in sports the issue at hand, but also homosexuality in the larger scheme of things. On Saturday, a crowd of 40,000 booed Conservative Public Works Minister Michael Fortier during his address. Fortier was acting as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s stand in.ÂThe Prime MInister, who is increasingly unpopular with homosexuals for having pledged to reopen Canada’s debate over same-sex “marriage”,Âwas unable to make the event due to a scheduling conflict.

Despite the explanation of a spokesman for the Prime MInister, that Harper cannot be everywhere at once, accusations of homophobia have been leveled at the Prime Minister for not attending the event. Canadian singer k.d. lang, who performed at the opening ceremony for the games, said of Harper’s absence, “It’s a sad statement that the national leader of a country that’s one of the most progressive countries in the world chooses to support intolerance.”

The games will end on August 5, with a concert by Liza Minelli. Until then, Montreal health clinics will be standing by with plenty of PEP for the duration of the games.