Greece: Gay rights campaigners appalled as health minister sanctions forced HIV tests

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In another sign of growing political intolerance in Greece, the country’s far-right health minister has reintroduced a measure to allow the police to carry out forced HIV tests.

Introduced shortly before the May 2012 general election, the policy was suspended several weeks ago by former deputy health minister Fotini Skopouli, who subsequently resigned following the Democratic Left party’s withdrawal from government. 

The policy resulted in the round-up and subsequent forced testing of hundreds of women.

Seventeen, who were found to be HIV positive, had their names, personal details and photographs published in the media, on the grounds of protecting public health.

Despite no evidence of them being involved with sex work, they were branded “prostitutes” and accused of being “health bombs”.

They were detained in custody for several months.  

According to the Greek independent news website EnetEnglish, Adonis Georgiadis, Greece’s new health minister, has reintroduced the draconian policy.

In a statement LGBT campaign group HOMOphonia-Thessaloniki Pride said: “Public health is not protected by the castigation of people who are HIV positive, but through the implementation of integrated programmes against HIV/AIDS, through the introduction of sex education in schools, and regular public campaigns.”

Mr Georgiades was previously a member of the far-right Popular Orthodox Rally.

In 2007 he published a book titled “Homosexuality in Ancient Greece: the Myth Collapses” in which he claimed social acceptance of homosexuality in Ancient Greece had been overstated.