Army agrees HIV discrimination unlawful

HIV-positive people will be able to join the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) after it admitted in the Pretoria High Court on Friday that its policies preventing HIV-positive people from employment, foreign deployment and promotion in the armed forces were unconstitutional.

Settling on a concept agreement with the Aids Law Project, acting on behalf of the South African Security Forces’ Union and individual members of the military, the SANDF agreed that discriminating against people on their HIV status alone was against the law.

The agreement, which was made an order of the court, also forces the SANDF to formulate a new health-classification policy within six months, to consider the promotion and foreign deployment of one of its members with HIV, and to immediately employ a man who passed all tests to enter the military but was denied employment on his HIV status alone.

”I think it’s a huge victory for the Constitution, I think it’s a huge victory for people living with HIV,” said Mark Heywood, executive director of the Aids Law Project

”We have a Constitution, which means our military has to justify its policy; it can’t just say ‘we’re the military, we are macho, we have to be combat ready, and we can do whatever the hell we want to do’ — this military has to operate within the confines of the Constitution and that’s great,” he added. — Sapa

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