Several groups yesterday came out in support of a care facility for HIV/AIDS sufferers which the Taipei District Court has said must relocate from its current site in a Taipei apartment complex.
The court ruled on Wednesday that the facility for those who are infected with either HIV or full-blown AIDS must relocate from the Chaihsing apartment complex in Taipei's Wenshan District (
Expressing regret over the ruling, the Department of Health said yesterday that it would offer legal assistance to the care facility so that it could appeal the ruling.
The court made the ruling on the grounds that residents of the home posed a threat to the psychological health of other people living in the complex.
Dismissing the court ruling as "outrageous and discriminatory against AIDS patients," Nicole Yang (楊捷), founder of the Harmony Home Association which operates the facility, said the association would appeal the case.
The care facility was set up in June last year in an apartment rented to the association by Wang Chi-tong (
After learning that the care facility provides shelter and care for more than 10 HIV-infected children and adults, the complex's management committee called two rounds of meetings in July and August of last year, in which it was agreed that the care facility be relocated within three months.
However, Yang refused to relocate the facility on the grounds that the committee's decision lacked any legal basis and that the building's code of conduct which bans its residents from sheltering any patients with a contagious disease runs against Article 10 of the Constitution which protects freedom of residence and the right to move at will.
The committee then filed a lawsuit to seek a court order for the care facility to be relocated. After four rounds of hearings, the court ruled in the committee's favor.
In the ruling, the court said the committee's demand that the facility be relocated did not violate residential apartment block management regulations.
As to the constitutional provision regarding freedom of residence, the verdict said the Constitution defines relations between the government and private citizens, rather than regulating relations among private citizens.
Moreover, the verdict said that allowing patients with contagious diseases to live in a densely populated community could pose a health threat.
Yang expressed deep regret over the court's failure to send its judge to conduct a field survey before making its ruling. In the course of the hearings, Yang recalled, a judge even suggested that the facility be relocated to a remote or sparsely populated area to avoid "scaring" others or causing anxiety in the neighborhood.
"I disagree with such a suggestion because it would deprive HIV-carriers and AIDS patients of their freedom of residence," Yang said, adding that the verdict simply reflects society's ignorance about HIV/AIDS transmission.
Saying that HIV can only be contracted through sexual intercourse, blood transfusions or breast feeding, Yang said people are not at risk of contracting HIV by simply having an AIDS patient living next door.
"I hope that the public can show some love to AIDS patients and HIV-positive people and allow them to rebuild their lives in the community," she added.