US law ending HIV visa ban is victory for campaign
The travel ban on people with HIV entering the United States has been ended by new US legislation. Following pressure from MEPs and a US Senate vote, the end to the ban has been signed into law by President Bush.
Liberal Democrat European justice and human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford said:
"This is undoubtedly a victory for human rights and against ignorant prejudice. I'm grateful that the EU officially took up the issue, but also appreciative of the Senators and Congressmen who ensured justice was delivered."
"This legislation is long overdue, since the second class treatment of individuals with HIV/Aids has never been acceptable, but it does remove one civil rights-denying blot from US border policy."
Sarah Ludford has led a persistent campaign to make the inclusion of people with HIV in 'visa waiver' one of the goals of EU visa negotiations with the US. This demand was incorporated in a European Parliament resolution in June and prompted EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot to press US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on the matter. At present people with HIV are denied visa waiver, have to apply for a US visa, and are almost always refused, so it amounted to a travel ban.
MEPs in European Parliament's justice & civil liberties committee were this week given an update on the matter by the top official in the Commission dealing with justice matters. It is expected that there will a slight delay in implementation while the necessary American administrative changes are made.