World AIDS Day: Legal lens

The Far West Community Legal Centre (CLC) is hosting an information session on HIV discrimination and the law as part of World AIDS Day next Friday, December 1st, at their office, 304 Oxide Street.

The public is invited to attend the event, which starts at 1pm, with afternoon tea provided.

Justin Mitchell, from the CLC, will host the event. Speaking to the Truth, he said, “World AIDS Day serves as a poignant backdrop to shed light on the persistent challenges of HIV discrimination and the legal frameworks addressing them.” He added, “While Australia has a lower prevalence of HIV compared to similar high-income nations, individuals living with HIV continue to face fear, stigma, and discrimination.”

Mr Mitchell explained that despite advancements in treatment making HIV a manageable condition, discrimination remains a significant issue, manifesting in both direct and indirect forms. State and Federal legislation prohibits discrimination based on HIV status, and in NSW, HIV vilification is a criminal offence.

The CLC’s dedication to advocating for and assisting marginalised groups positions it to lead in addressing HIV discrimination and misinformation. “The unique opportunity to raise awareness and provide education aligns with our commitment to community legal education. As a new team at the centre, we are keen to organise more events around nationally and internationally significant days, contributing to a broader understanding of crucial issues,” Mr Mitchell stated.

Central to Mr Mitchell’s aims is addressing misconceptions about HIV discrimination and the law. Outdated beliefs about transmission and ignorance of legal protections hinder acceptance of those living with HIV in the community. “A particularly complex issue involves the criminalisation of HIV transmission, where misconceptions about these laws can also perpetuate stigmatisation, casting individuals with HIV as potential criminal threats and reinforcing negative stereotypes,” he noted.

In anticipation of the event, Mr Mitchell emphasised, “It’s essential to highlight the broader societal impact of dispelling misconceptions around HIV.” He concluded, “Fostering a nuanced understanding of the legal landscape and promoting inclusivity can contribute to dismantling barriers faced by individuals living with HIV. Emphasising the role of community awareness and education in challenging stereotypes and discrimination will be a key focus during the workshop.”

For more information about this upcoming event, Mr Mitchell can be contacted via the CLC at (08) 8088 2020.

PICTURE: Justin Mitchell is passionate about next Friday’s HIV discrimination workshop. Photo Supplied.

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