Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

EU should raise 'discriminatory' US travel measures for people with HIV/AIDS

19th December 2007

Charles Tannock raises concerns with EU officials

BRUSSELS, 19 December 2007 -- New US proposals to regulate people with HIV and AIDS travelling to the United States could amount to double discrimination, London Conservative Euro-MP Charles Tannock said today.

Dr Tannock, a former NHS doctor, has raised the issue with senior EU officials after being contacted by constituents.

The Department of Homeland Security has recently been criticised by US politicians and LGBT lobby groups over a new law. Opponents of the proposal say it would limit visits by HIV-positive people to 30 days and oblige them to waive both their right to appeal and their right to change their immigration status once in the US - for example to seek work, study or be reunited permanently with family members.

The White House claims the plan would streamline procedures.

Dr Tannock said that it was bad enough that people with HIV and AIDS were being singled out under the current system, but that it effectively amounted to indirect discrimination towards the gay community. He added that he shared the concerns of campaigners that the proposed changes to the system could make life even harder for people living with HIV and AIDS.

He said:

"Immigration issues are obviously up to the US authorities to decide but the proposed change in the law does not seem to make life any easier for HIV-positive people than the current legislation.

"At the moment all Britons have the right to enter the US for 90 days under the visa waiver programme, apart from those living with HIV.

"The right to a 90-day stay should be the norm for everyone, not just those who are HIV-negative.

"If the new proposal becomes law it could mean that people who are HIV-positive are denied the chance to be reunited with family members and partners, or to work or study in America.

"The measures amount to an entrenchment of discrimination, in particular because they will disproportionately affect thousands of gay and bisexual people.

"I've raised this issue in a written parliamentary question to the EU Commission and Council because collectively they are likely to have considerable clout with the US authorities on this particular issue.

"The US is one of the only countries to place travel restrictions on people living with HIV and AIDS.

"America's policy places it alongside countries such as Saudi Arabia. It's unworthy of a country like America, with which we share common values of liberty and equality."