Mon, Dec 29, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Opposition MP in Malaysia retracts HIV remarks: report

AFP , KUALA LUMPUR

A senior opposition politician withdrew his statement that people with HIV should be banned from marriage, after he was criticized by AIDS activists, a report said yesterday.

Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, of the conservative Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) and chief minister of the northern state of Perak, said people with HIV should be allowed to marry and have children.

“No one is out to sideline HIV carriers,” he was quoted as saying by the New Sunday Times newspaper.

However he also said that people with HIV should be housed in special isolated wards when in hospital and when marrying should be required to prove to their future spouse that they are receiving medical treatment.

Nizar appeared to change his stance after last week when he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times newspaper: “I think it is a gross error to allow somebody very sick like that, an HIV carrier, to marry.”

“If there’s any breeding — sorry for having to use that word — the embryo will also carry the same virus. It’s very unjust to the child,” he was quoted as saying.

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak had earlier said that all Muslim couples would have to undergo mandatory HIV screening before they wed — a test so far only applied in certain states.

Irene Fernandez, director of the women’s group Tenaganita, said the government “should not be making such choices for people.”

“It is a screwed-up perspective. After so many years of HIV/AIDS education they [the government] come up with such views. This is very worrying,” she said.

“If a couple gets married and one partner is found to be HIV positive, does it mean they will have to divorce? This clearly does not make sense,” she said.

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