Liberty Victoria applauds repeal of discriminatory law

Liberty Victoria has welcomed the Andrews Government’s decision to scrap an offensive and counter-productive Crimes Act provision. Section 19A was introduced into the Crimes Act by the Kennett government in 1993 in response to a tabloid panic about armed robbers brandishing blood-filled syringes and threatening AIDS.

Liberty Vice-President Jamie Gardiner said:

“This section was always unnecessary. Both the Crimes Act and the Health Act contained ample provisions to deal with both health issues around infection and criminal issues around reckless or deliberate threats to safety. Its only point was to stigmatize HIV infection, at a time of panic around the then untreatable illness of AIDS. What it actually did was to obstruct health promotion and disease prevention programs and endorse the irrational panic. It simply increased the burden of stigma and prejudice on people living with HIV. It has continued to impede health efforts; its repeal is long overdue.”

In July 2014 Liberty and other bodies called on the then Government to repeal this bad law, and welcomed then Minister Davis’ promise to review it. Liberty was delighted when the Labor opposition undertook to repeal it, and is very pleased to see it has now acted to implement that promise.

Gardiner added: “I congratulate Attorney-General Martin Pakula on his announcement, and hope that the Opposition MPs will give this reform the bipartisan support it deserves.