Urgent changes are needed to Moldovan laws to combat high levels of anti-gay persecution and discrimination against HIV positive people, urges a report by Amnesty International.
The human rights group’s paper, Towards Equality: Discrimination in Moldova, suggests amendments to the Eastern European country’s Law on Ensuring Equality, due to come into force on 1 January, 2013.
The proposed changes would prohibit discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation, sexual identity and state of health.
The report published today (10 September) also calls for hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation and identity, as well as disabilities, to be added to Moldova’s Criminal Code.
Amnesty International’s expert on Moldova, Heather McGill, said: ‘There is an urgent need for these changes as Moldova’s present climate of prejudice and stereotyping breeds violence and abuse against disadvantaged groups – crimes that are committed with impunity.
‘International standards, not the prevalent prejudices in society as a whole, should be the guiding principles for Moldova’s laws.
‘Moldova can prove its democratic credentials by taking care of the most vulnerable in its society, by viewing diversity not as a threat, but as a source of enrichment.’
To this end, the Moldovan government must take measures to prevent the use of negative stereotypes in public discourse, raise awareness of discrimination and build tolerance through education and public information.
‘It must ensure that victims of discrimination are provided with redress.’
According to Amnesty, the deliberate exclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people as a protected group, as well as the deficiencies in the Criminal Code which allow hate crimes to be treated as ‘hooliganism’, only further perpetuates negative attitudes.
They also prevent the victims of such crimes to be brought to justice, with corrupt policemen frequently blackmailing gay men in Moldova and exploiting the society’s stigmatization of homosexuality and acceptance of discrimination against LGBTI people.
There were 5,290 cases of HIV/AIDS registered in Moldova in 2009.
Despite a 2007 law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of HIV/AIDS status, positive people continue to face stigma and discrimination in the workplace, in society, and in accessing health care.
A 48-year-old HIV-positive woman, known only as IH to protect her identity, suffers from severe deterioration of a hip joint and is only able to walk with crutches.
In May 2011, she was put on a waiting list for a hip replacement operation at the Traumatology and Orthopedics Hospital in Chisinau.
However, on 21 November 2011, doctors refused to carry out the operation, claiming that the surgery was too risky for somebody with her health problems.