We As One
The legal action against three Richland Gardens residents for interfering and obstructing staff of Kowloon Bay Health Centre, which includes an integrated treatment centre for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS patients, came to an out-of-court settlement in late-January this year.
Legal proceedings in respect of the discriminatory actions and conduct, which stemmed from the prejudice and stigmatization of HIV/AIDS, commenced in November 2001. On behalf of the five plaintiffs associated with the Centre, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) successfully obtained from two defendants written apologies. The plaintiffs now feel that their dignity is respected by those residents who protested against the location of the Health Centre. Accordingly, they consider the matter successfully resolved and proceedings against the third defendant have been withdrawn.
The long-running protests began as the Centre opened in May 1999. Patients and the Health Centre workers were harassed and vilified by a small but vocal group of Richland Gardens' residents. Legal action was not taken until several attempts at conciliation failed.
The EOC welcomes the outcome of the case. Not only has it sent out a clear message that discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS or people associated with them is unacceptable and unlawful, more importantly, it also serves as a good illustration of the application of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO) in restoring community relations.
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