HIV-Infected Man Appeals Ruling

A local government in China turns down an applicant for a teaching job, saying teachers must be 'in good health.'

china-aids-day-305.jpg Activists form a red ribbon, marking World AIDS Day in central China's Henan province, Dec. 1, 2010.

An HIV-positive Chinese man has appealed a court decision in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed against his local government after he was turned down for a teaching job.

The appeal was lodged ahead of International Labor Day on May 1 to highlight employment discrimination faced by people living with HIV in China, according to the man's lawyer.

"From a legal point of view there should have been no problem with him winning this case, which was first filed last year," said Zheng Jineng, lawyer for the man, who was identified by a nickname Xiao Wu to protect his identity.

"The laws of our country say that people infected with HIV have a right to employment," Zheng said. "So these rights must be protected by the whole system; they won't be protected just because someone writes a law about them."

Xiao Wu's case was rejected in a decision on Nov. 12, 2010 by the Yingjiang District People's Court in the eastern city of Anqing.

'Unacceptable' to discriminate

Lu Jun, a director for the Beijing-based health charity Yirenping, said that the Chinese government had all along stated that it was unacceptable to discriminate against people living with HIV.

"Now, it's actually government departments, the education bureau and the human resources department, that are infringing the rights of a person with HIV," Lu said.

"This infringement has got the backing of the local court, which flies in the face of central government policy and national law," he said.

He called on the provincial authorities to show more of a humanitarian spirit. "We are hopeful that the provincial-level procuratorate will uphold Wu's appeal," Lu said.

Court officials ruled 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 for teachers.

It also cited China's Teachers Law, which requires teachers to be in good physical health with no infectious diseases.

It said the local government's decision not to hire Wu was "entirely legal."

Landmark litigation

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

The case was hailed as a landmark piece of litigation at the time 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."

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 Fang Yuan for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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