SA court condemns HIV sacking
In a landmark South African court judgement, a horse-riding instructor who was sacked from his job for being HIV-positive has won his case. The Johannesburg Labour Court on Wednesday ordered Gary Allpass's former employer to pay him compensation equivalent to a year's wages.
Campaigners for the rights of South Africa's five million HIV-positive people hailed the ruling as historic. Legal experts said it was significant because discrimination cases are usually brought against large companies but this ruling proves even small firms must obey the labour relations act.
Gary Allpass was sacked in 2008 from the stables he worked for, Mooikloof Estates in Pretoria, after his boss asked him to fill in a form disclosing if he was on long-term medication. Allpass has been living with HIV for more than 20 years and revealed on the form that he was taking anti-retroviral drugs.
A week later, the 48-year-old riding instructor was sacked and thrown out of staff lodgings. The court heard that colleagues called him names including ''vagrant'' and ''moffie'' - a derogatory word for a gay man.
Judge Urmila Bhoola said there was no medical or physical reason why Allpass could not do his job. She said the notion that HIV and Aids are synonymous with serious illness is common but that this stereotype results in loss of dignity.
Allpass was on a three-month contract when he was sacked. Judge Bhoola nevertheless ordered his employer to pay him a year's wages in compensation.
After the hearing the riding instructor said he saw the ruling as a victory for all people who suffer from discrimination because of their HIV status.
He said he would now begin training to enter the next Paralympic Games.
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