Shadow Minister Gavin Jennings backs VAC and Living Positive principles to end discriminatory HIV laws.
The Shadow Minister for Health Gavin Jennings has confirmed he supports the Victorian AIDS Council and Living Positive Victoria’s plan to invoke five principles to end discrimination surrounding transmission of HIV.
The principles released by the two organisations in a joint statement today, included the actions that HIV be treated as a public health issue, called for an amendment of the Crimes Act to repeal section 19a; asked for appropriate use of the Crimes Act in non-intentional transmission and exposure cases and requested that the action plan be completed within twelve months.
Speaking exclusively to GNN, Jennings said Labor will support the action plan that VAC and Living Positive have released.
“It sets out a clear timetable for legislative change in the next year. It is based upon a recognition that this is a public health issue – so we support that," said Jennings.
"It recognises there is a potential for inadvertently adding to discrimination unless it’s done properly. So we support moves that guarantee to reduce discrimination and stigma rather than add discrimination."
Jennings said as a logical consequence of that, the most effective way to end discrimination would be to repeal the provision.
"But we will work through a process of speaking with the community, the legal fraternity and medical experts - who will be brought in so we can have an Act that coincides with public health practices and is still designed to have the effect of community safety but decriminalising any perception that someone with HIV would be seen as a criminal for that reason rather than any action."
Jennings acknowledged the law as it stands in Victoria is discriminatory and stigmatises those living with HIV.
“We whole heartedly understand that the law is discriminatory and we respect that the proper legal framework in Victoria should not have provisions such as those,” he told GNN. “So we will be looking to join with the VAC and Living Positive to within the year, design a law that doesn’t add to discrimination but removes it.”
Jennings said if the current Victorian government picks up the action plan, then he will support them wholeheartedly.
“But f they don't – if the action plan principles create difficulty for them, an incoming Labor government would be very happy to comply totally with the action plans and principles.”