18 November 2020
Alex Greenwich, the member for Sydney, will strongly oppose the NSW Government’s proposed mandatory HIV testing bill. The Mandatory Disease Testing Bill would allow a police officer who has come into contact with a third person’s bodily fluids to seek an order from a senior officer to force that person to get tested for HIV and other blood-borne diseases, even when there is no chance of those diseases being contracted by the officer.
Mr Greenwich said: “this bill is not about protecting frontline workers, it doesn’t even limit orders to incidents in which there has been a transmission of bodily fluids. Orders can be made based purely on there being contact with a bodily fluid, such as saliva that cannot transmit HIV.”
“The bill has clearly been designed to enable the use of the orders as a form of punishment against vulnerable people. This has been further evidenced by the government’s opposition to amendments for safeguards as put forward by myself and the Greens.”
“Medical procedures should never be mandatory and should never be used as a form of punishment. We became world leaders in HIV and COVID-19 transmission because we listened to experts and based policy on health advice. This bill transfers disease control from a health context into a punitive context while inciting fear; it is a backward step for New South Wales.
“If the government wants to talk about spitting, this bill spits on the years of progress to destigmatize HIV, it spits on the years of progress to build stronger relationships between police and the LGBTI community, and it spits on all the medical evidence that show it to be unnecessary and dangerous."
Mr Greenwich also criticised the Labor Opposition Leader, Jodi Mackay, for provoking the government to legislate in this area:
“We are dealing with this bill because the Labor opposition leader jumped on a dangerous bandwagon last November to force, without any evidence, HIV tests on vulnerable people at the behest of a police office, which then provoked an action from the government to outdo them.”
Mr Greenwich also expressed concerns that the bill will impact the relationship between the NSW Police and the state’s LGBTI community:
“When you come from a community that has been bashed by the police, a community that has been body slammed by police, a community whose safety was negligently ignored by the police for decades, you get concerned with legislation that would potentially now allow a police office to weaponize an HIV test as a form of punishment against a gay person, or other vulnerable groups.
“In the height of the AIDs crisis this law was not needed, so why now when HIV spread has almost being eliminated in this state is it needed?”
A copy of the bill and the proposed amendment can be found at HERE.