Belgium: Victory Over HIV Discrimination

The Raad van State [State Council], BelgiumÕs supreme judicial body, has rejected a proposal by the Minister of the Interior to make HIV-seropositivity a reason for excluding applicants from the Rijkswacht, the Belgian federal police force. The decision follows loud protests last summer by human rights groups, AIDS organizations and lesbian and gay activists at the proposed introduction of this rule. In August 1992, the International Lesbian and Gay Association also initiated a protest campaign against the measure, condemning it as discriminatory and insulting. The Minister of the Interior, Louis Tobback, originally annouced the new regulation in July 1992, following a proposal from the General Staff of the Rijkswacht regarding the selection of candidates for the force. The new criteria included a stipulation that applicants who were drug addicts, alcoholics or seropositives would not be allowed into the force. Mr. Tobback defended this policy on economic and medical grounds, stating that it would be useless to invest in expensive training for people who "after a few years may not be able to fulfil their duties." The Raad van StateÕs decision is significant, as Mr. Tobback had stated last summer that only a negative ruling from that body would make him change his mind.