China court 'hears first HIV job discrimination case'

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A landmark trial is being heard in China of a recent graduate who says he was denied a teaching job because he is HIV positive, state media say.

The plaintiff, identified only by his alias Xiao Wu, filed the lawsuit against the education department of Anqing in eastern Anhui province.

The China Daily says it is the nation's first such discrimination case.

The trial is closed to the public to protect the man's identity. Mr Xiao is not expected to appear in court.

"I am from a very small place. People would gossip about me on the streets or in restaurants if they know my identity. It is really scary," he was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Medical screening

Mr Xiao said he had passed written tests and interviews for the teaching post in Anhui province.

But he was turned down after medical screening revealed his HIV status, the China Daily said.

The plaintiff, who is in his early 20s, was not asking for compensation but wanted to be given "the job he deserves", the newspaper said.

It said he was currently working at a private school in Anqing, earning about 1,000 yuan (£95; $147) per month.

Speaking to the BBC in August, a lawyer for the plaintiff said that he would defend his client under existing Chinese laws.

"The state already has laws and regulations forbidding discrimination against HIV carriers when they apply for jobs," Zheng Jineng said.

"But the actual practice by some government departments and employers are in direct conflict with the laws.

"The fact that the People's Court has accepted the case indicates that the rule of law in China is progressing."

Officials say an estimated 740,000 Chinese people are living with HIV/Aids.

Many face discrimination in employment, education and healthcare because of the stigma attached to the virus.