Australia: Sexual uses of poppers should weigh against ban, LGBT health advocates warn

The Therapeutic Goods Administration failed to consider the therapeutic uses of alkyl nitrites – including their use in receptive anal sex – when they proposed to ban the inhalants, LGBT health advocates have warned.

The TGA will meet sexual health physician Vincent Cornelisse and community health advocate Daniel Reeders on Thursday after the pair made a submission warning a ban would criminalise the practice of an estimated 90,000 adult gay and bisexual men who use the inhalant during intercourse.

After its interim decision in September, the TGA is conducting consultation on its proposal to ban alkyl nitrites, which has triggered a backlash over its discriminatory impact on gay and bisexual men.

Cornelisse, Reeders and three other co-authors have made a submission arguing that in its interim decision, the TGA failed to properly weigh the risks and benefits of alkyl nitrites, commonly referred to as “poppers”. Amyl nitrate is the most common form of the drug.

Poppers dilate the user’s blood vessels, helping receptive sexual partners comfortably enjoy anal sex. The proposal would list alkyl nitrites in schedule 9, along with the most serious drugs and effectively criminalise possession and use. The TGA has claimed that there is a “high potential for misuse and abuse of alkyl nitrites for euphoric properties, and as sex aids due to their muscle relaxant properties” in “particular sections of the community”.

Reeders, Cornelisse and their co-authors accused the TGA delegate of “listing the benefits of use as risks of use”, which they argued “perhaps [reflects] a prejudgment of the scheduling decision”. The authors also submitted the interim decision was contradictory because it claimed poppers had “little or no therapeutic benefit” despite conceding they are used for their “euphoric … analgesic and muscle relaxant effects”.

“Use as sex aids due to their muscle relaxant properties should not be considered misuse and abuse of these substances,” they argued. Instead, this was a “legitimate, beneficial and therapeutic use” of poppers, which help prevent spasms and tearing during anal sex. Read more via Guardian