Court Quashes HIV Lawsuit

A court rules against the plaintiff in China's first employment-related HIV-discrimination suit.
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Volunteers take part in an AIDS-awareness event on World AIDS Day in Beijing, Dec. 1, 2009.
Volunteers take part in an AIDS-awareness event on World AIDS Day in Beijing, Dec. 1, 2009.

HONG KONG—An HIV-positive Chinese man has vowed to appeal after losing an employment discrimination lawsuit made against the local government when he was turned down for a teaching job.

The man, nicknamed Xiao Wu to protect his identity, had his case rejected in a decision on Friday by the Yingjiang District People's Court in the eastern city of Anqing.

"The court rejected the lawsuit," said Yu Fangqiang, of the Beijing-based health charity Yirenping.

"In the judgment, it said that the local education bureau and the human resources department had acted according to civil service guidelines in carrying out medical examinations, and had acted correctly in the recruitment process," Yu said.

"Another reason it gave was that the Teachers Law requires teachers to be in good physical health with no infectious diseases, so that their decision not to hire Xiao Wu was entirely legal," he said.

One of Xiao Wu's legal team, Anhui-based rights lawyer Zheng Ji, said his client was deeply disappointed by the decision.

"However, he rather expected that this would be the outcome," said Zheng. "Obviously the decision to bring this lawsuit wasn't a simple one, with a lot of factors to take into consideration."

"He says that he is planning to appeal."

Xiao Wu, who recently graduated from university, told local media he wasn't seeking compensation, but was simply seeking the job he deserves.

Case first of its kind

The case was hailed as a landmark piece of litigation by the official Xinhua news agency, which said it was China's first ever employment-related HIV-discrimination case.

But it quoted government officials as saying the case wasn't about discrimination at all.

Wang Gongyi, director of the justice research institute in China's Ministry of Justice, was quoted by the agency as saying that the court's decision was "reasonable."

"Teaching is a very special occupation. I think the education department has the right to make a thorough evaluation before it hires someone," Wang said.

China's Prevention of Infectious Diseases Law states that it is unlawful to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of their infection with an illness or virus.

Employment discrimination cases are on the rise in China, as women, disabled people, and carriers of viruses like Hepatitis B and HIV try to win equal treatment through judicial channels.

Official figures put the number of Chinese living with HIV at 740,000.

Reported by Ding Xiao for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.





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