In Greece the Police has the right to force HIV tests to arrested people

My last article was about Turkey… now it’s about Greece.  It seems like an Eastern Europe human rights violations “journey” is happening often these days,  with agressive acts by the police in Turkey, LGBTQI rights violations in Russia and now Greece. A journey that’s not very happy indeed. So now in Greece there is a new Health Minister named Adonis Georgiadis.

Currently, a new Health Minister has been named in Greece: Adonis Georgiadis was a member of the previous nationalistic party that entered the Greek Parliament, LAOS. When they lost their position in the Parliament during the last elections he and another congressman, Makis Voridis, moved to New Democracy and with the last reformation, after some moves Adonis Georgiadis became Health Minister.

In May 2012, the previous Health Minister, Andreas Loverdos came up with a Ministerial Decision stating the police has the right to arrest people to force them in HIV/AIDS tests (if needed) and that police may also publish the personal data of arrested people with HIV.

That decision results in 17 women being arrested, in May of 2012 and found HIV positive. What followed was the police that made their personal data public through the media and the Greek Police website, because of “public health” protection. Those women were mostly prostitutes and drug addicts BUT their clients paid more for unprotected sex, which led them to be found HIV positive.  Although Greek court of law decided they were innocent regarding their connection with sex industry because there wasn’t any proof, the lives of those women and the ones of their families were already destroyed.

Although it was soon abolished by the former sub-minister, Fotini Skopouli, the current Health Minister, Adonis Georgiadis brought it back on the news with the same excuse: the protection of public health!

After that provision has been reintroduced, many local LGBTQI and HIV/AIDS NGOs raised their voices. On July 3rd there was a protest in Thessaloniki followed by a protest on Monday July 8th the following NGOs: Act Up, Athens Pride, Colour Youth, Positive Voice, Center of Life, Praksis, Homopgonia-Thessaloniki Pride, Synthesis, OLKE, Good As You(th), Proud Press, Lesbian Community of Athens, Lesbequal, Queertranss, World without wars and violence and the Green Party of Greece, protested outside the Ministry of Health, in Athens. From the beginning in May 2012 till now that Mr. Georgiadis reintroduced it, ACT UP Hellas began the reaction to the provision by impeaching the provision.

This measure didn’t leave the international community speechless. Among the several reactions, the French HIV expert and Medicine Nobelist  Françoise Barré – Sinoussi stated in her closing speech of IAS (International AIDS Society) at Kuala Lumpur: “As we keep repeating over the years, there will be no end to the HIV epidemic without advancing Human rights in parallel”, and asked Greek Government to withdraw the decision immediately.

On the opposite, Minister of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights, Charalampos Athanassiou, didn’t say a word about the reintroduction of the decision, nor the Secretary of Transparency and Human Rights Sourlas Georgios. Nevertheless we would like to remind them the International Declaration of Human Rights Greece as part of the EU, Greece as an UN Charter signatory, Greece as a democratic country has to follow its duties and serve human rights.

Article 5: No one is allowed to submit in torture, penalty or violent, inhuman and/or degrading treatment.

Mandatory HIV tests are a use of violence. Also when the personal data become public it is a pillory of those people which is an inhumane treatment.

Article 12: No one is allowed to suffer arbitrary interventions in their private life, family, home and mail, neither attack in their honor and reputation. Anyone has the right to be protected by the law from interpretations and that kind of insults.

When someone is sick it is their right to tell people or not. If the police does it, it’s a clearly violation of that right because the police intervenes in their private life. That right too is protected by the Greek Constitution.


Written by Amorgianou Dimitra, member of the Human Rights Working Group


Pictures are courtesy of Hiro Photography