ETLJB 29 April 2013 - The Dili weekly reported in April that the Program Manager, Rui Carvalho, of the ISEAN Hivos Program Satellite Office in Timor-Leste, has accused personnel working at the Volunteer Confidential Counselling Testing facilities of discriminating against MSM (men who have sex with men) and transgender Timorese when these clients go for HIV/AIDS tests.
Program Manager Carvalhosaid it is mostly verbal discrimination that MSM and transgender individuals face.
He said it is common in Timor-Leste for MSM and transgender individuals to be discriminated against by their family, society in general and also by the VCCT staff.
He added his clients are often verbally abused and taunted which affects their psychological wellbeing. He said they are also discriminated against physically.
“I will not name names but last year an MSM friend from Baucau, when going for a test at the VCCT was discriminated against by the health workers there. Rather than offering counselling they forced him to strip and demonstrate how he has sexual relations,” said the Program Manager of IHPSOTL Rui Carvalho, at Delta Novain Dili.
He said his organization ISEAN Hivos would become an umbrella organization for these two groups and would fight discrimination and stigmatisation of MSM and transgender individuals in Timor-Leste.
Meanwhile the Deputy Provedore for Human Rights and Justice (PDHJ) Silveiro Pinto Baptista said everyone is equal under the law so if any citizen, including those belonging to these groups, is discriminated against they should lodge a complaint at PDHJ.
He guarantees PDHJ will ensure and promote the rights of all citizens.
“So far PDHJ has not yet received any complaints from individuals belonging to these two groups,” said Deputy Baptista.
The Chief of Unit of the HIV/AIDS Program at the Ministry of Health Marta Avenia dos Santos said the process of testing for HIV/AIDS is voluntary and includes counselling for those undertaking the testing.
“I believe no one going through the VCCT process is being discriminated against,” said Chief dos Santos. Source: The Dili Weekly Edited by Warren L. Wright
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