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Ivan Toms
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    (July 11, 1952-March 25, 2008)
    Born in Cape Town, South Africa
    South African physician, anti-apartheid activist, anti-conscription activist and gay rights activist
    Founding member of the End Conscription Campaign (ECC, 1983)
    Sentenced to 21 months in prison (served nine) for refusing to serve one month of compulsory service (1988)
    Co-ordinator of the National Progressive Primary Healthcare Network (1991-96) to combat AIDS/HIV
    Health Director for Cape Town (1996-2008)
    Died of meningitis at age 55
    Despite already opposing apartheid, he served six months in Namibia when he was first drafted (1978).
    He gave into ECC pressure and agreed to not discuss his homosexuality while campaigning against conscription.
    Despite having headed South Africa's anti-AIDS campaign, he accepted an award from AIDS-denialist Thabo Mbeki.
    He opened a clinic in the Crossroads shantytown outside Cape Town, serving as the only doctor for a population of 60,000 (1979).
    An aide noted, 'If the army was shooting at people, he would go and confront them.'
    He went on a three-week hunger strike to protest the government bulldozing Crossroads (1985).
    Government harassment of him ranged from dropping loads of pig manure at his house to distributing posters making crude jokes about his being gay.
    The judge who sentenced him to prison noted that he was obligated to do so under South African law, but added 'Our jails are there for people who are a menace to society. You are not a menace to society. In fact, you are just the opposite. You have always been an asset to society in the services you have rendered.'
    Desmond Tutu called him 'a dynamo for goodness, for compassion and justice.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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