Outrage at Guangdong plan to ban teachers with HIV and STDs

NGOs slam Guangdong education officials as unfair and misinformed about facts of disease

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2013, 10:37am

A draft regulation unveiled by Guangdong education authorities that would ban HIV carriers and people with sexually transmitted diseases from applying for jobs as teachers has triggered a huge outcry from the mainland's anti-discrimination NGOs.

The draft, released by the province's education department on Sunday for public consultation, said individuals infected with HIV, gonorrhoea, syphilis, genital warts or any of three other sexually transmitted diseases would be screened out through physical examinations during the recruitment process.

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis would also be banned from working as teachers, according to the department's website.

HIV carriers have brought at least four anti-discrimination lawsuits against the education authorities in the provinces of Anhui, Guizhou, Jiangxi and Sichuan after they were disqualified from working as teachers because of the disease.

The plaintiffs have lost two of the cases, another was rejected by the courts and the fourth is going through mediation.

Meanwhile, previous discriminatory clauses in the draft banning candidates with high blood pressure, serious shortsightedness, disabilities and facial paralysis from becoming teachers were deleted, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported.

Yu Fangqiang , director of the anti-discrimination NGO Justice for All, said it was foolish to ban HIV-positive teachers because students would not be at risk of infection in daily school life.

"It's clear that HIV would only be transmitted through unprotected sex, via infected blood or from an infected pregnant woman to her unborn child," he said. "You can't get it from kissing, coughing or sneezing and certainly not from swimming pools, showers or sharing the toilets."

Beijing Yirenping Centre director Lu Jun said the draft went against another regulation announced by the State Council that guaranteed equal employment rights for HIV carriers. "[The ban expresses] an attitude far behind the times because it evaluates the morals of patients [based on] certain diseases," Lu said, adding that most sexually transmitted diseased could be cured.

However, nearly 44 per cent of 330 internet users in an online poll voted against HIV carriers working as teachers, saying that small children who were not aware of HIV prevention measures could be infected through bleeding wounds.

Job seekers infected with hepatitis or HIV have long been discriminated against on the mainland and barred from working in schools and the government.