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Greece reinstates mandatory HIV testing




 

Adonis Georgiadis, the new Greek minister of health and social solidarity, is receiving a resounding outcry against his reinstatement of mandatory HIV testing by human rights and LGBT groups, which have appealed to the United Nations.

On June 26, the day after his appointment as minister of health, Adonis reinstated Health Regulation No. GY/39A, a provision that makes health examinations mandatory and authorizes authorities to detain individuals suspected of carrying a number of diseases that are a threat to public health, according to advocates protesting the reinstatement of the law.

The ministry made the new regulation public July 1, according to a Human Rights Watch news release.

"It's deeply worrying that it took the new health minister only one day to bring back a regulation that violated human rights and stigmatized vulnerable groups, and that proved counterproductive to protecting public health," said Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at HRW. "If the government is serious about addressing HIV and other infectious diseases, it should focus on access to health care and public information."

Diseases listed in the regulation include, but aren't limited to, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria, polio, syphilis, hepatitis, and other sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

The regulation also specifies certain groups as a priority for testing, including intravenous drug users, sex workers, undocumented migrants coming from countries where diseases on the list are endemic, and people living in conditions that do not meet "minimum standards" of hygiene, including the homeless, according to HRW.

The former health minister introduced the regulation in April 2012, but it was repealed a year later.

During the year that the regulation was enforced by police, people – in particular individuals suspected of being sex workers, drug users, or undocumented migrants – were detained for forced HIV testing, according to HRW.

Transgender women are particularly vulnerable to being targeted, according to Members of the European Parliament.

The European Union cited reports of groups of transgender women being arrested, detained and forced to be tested for HIV in its concern about the resurgence of the regulation.

In August 2012, in a single night 25 transgender women in Athens were arrested, detained, and forced to take HIV tests. The women were later released without charge. This was the first reported case under the enforcement of the regulation. There have been other reports of sweeping arrests of transgender individuals by Thessaloniki police in June, after the regulation was suspended. The police justified the arrests by saying that the individuals were suspected of being sex workers and therefore public health risks. These women were also found not guilty of all charges, reported Care2.com.

Prior to the regulation's suspension hundreds of women – transgender and non-transgender – were arrested, reported Care2.com. Only 17 were actually found to be HIV-positive. Police released the photos and details of the HIV-positive women to the media "under the guise of protecting public health," reported Care2.com.

Ironically, the regulation acknowledges that international human rights conventions and protocols would be respected. At the same time the regulation authorizes police to enforce isolation, restriction quarantine, hospitalization and treatment, according to human rights groups.

International human rights conventions and protocols strictly limit the use of mandatory testing, isolation and compulsory treatment, according to HRW.

Chilean teen loses leg in anti-gay attack

Viciously attacked by six men with machete knives and iron bars on June 23, Esteban Navarro, 19, now faces amputation of his leg as a result of injuries sustained from the attack in Penalolen.

The perpetrators reportedly shouted anti-gay slurs during the attack, according to media reports.

Navarro was rushed to the hospital in severe condition. Initially his foot was amputated, but now his entire leg will have to be removed as he struggles to recover.

Family members told local media they are "very sad and concerned," but that they expect "justice" and the individuals responsible will be "punished ... to the fullest extent of the law."

"Esteban's life has changed dramatically," said a family spokesperson.

It has been a year since the passage of an anti-discrimination law, dubbed the "Zamudio Law," after Daniel Zamudio, a 24-year-old gay man, who died in March 2012 after being brutally attacked, allegedly for being gay.

Chilean LGBT rights activists believe that government officials and police aren't taking enough action against attacks on members of the LGBT community.

"A young man lost his leg, last May a young transsexual lost an eye," Oscar Rementeria, spokesman for Homosexual Movement of Integration and Liberation, told media about attacks against the community since Zamudio's death. "Almost all of the authorities condemned the murder of Daniel Zamudio, [but] have kept absolute silence on the two later cases, which is unacceptable."

Mugabe to gays: have kids or be jailed

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe told thousands of supporters at the launch of his party's campaign for this month's general elections that LGBT couples should conceive or be jailed.

Addressing the crowd in Harare's Highfield township, Mugabe challenged gays and lesbians, stating that he "should like to shut them up in some room and see if they get pregnant," reported New Zimbabwe.

"If they don't, then its jail because they have claimed they can have children. So, to that kind of rot, we say no, no, no," he said.

Mugabe didn't stop there. He also challenged butch lesbians to prove they were indeed "men."

"Women are also engaged in this vile activity. We have some claiming to be men, but what is it that makes you a man?" he asked. "Show us your manhood. You want to make other women your wives and you the husband?"

Mugabe also berated President Barack Obama for calling upon African nations to embrace homosexuality and for the Anglican Church for "blessing homosexual marriages."

According to multiple media reports, Mugabe broke into fits of laughter throughout his anti-gay speech.

This isn't his first attack on Zimbabwe's LGBT community. Last month, the anti-gay leader stated that if his party, Zanu PF, wins he promised there would be "hell for gays," reported Gay Star News.

Homosexuality is punishable by law in Zimbabwe.



 


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Information in this article was accurate in July 11, 2013. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.