English teachers in South Korea welcome end of HIV test
Issue was about dated family values and not health and safety, say teachers
By John Redmond
English teachers in Korea have welcomed a government decision to scrap HIV tests for E-2 visa applicants.
Viewed as discriminatory and a human rights violation, the HIV tests also caused unrest due to the fact that only foreign teachers were targetted. Korean nationals working in the same position were exempt.
Many have seen this requirement as racist.
“I was appalled when I was told that I had to undergo a test, but my Korean co-workers didn’t,” said a teacher who wished to be referred to as Mike.
Many saw it as the last straw.
“The institution of the testing in 2007-08 was a small part of my decision to leave. I was on an E-1, but my partner was on an E-2 and I was offended that she might be subjected to testing and that very few E-2 holders, and almost no Koreans except the good people at the STD clinic, shared my viewpoint,” said former university lecturer Craig.
The teachers’ main issue seemed to be the mentality that HIV was a Western disease.
There was also the argument about homophobia; that HIV is seen as a disease spread by the gay community.
“This is not about health and safety. It’s about dated family values,” said former teacher Sam Hanson.
“It’s still the belief that HIV and gay are the same thing.”
One even commented on what would happen if a person were to be found HIV positive.
“An HIV positive person would likely be sent home shortly after the results were received. And it seems very unlikely people would be wanting to share that about themselves,” said an anonymous source.
The general tone of comments indicates that the decision is a step in the right direction.
“It’s a good one. What else is there to say?” asked Kelly Andrew.