By Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2014-8-15 0:53:01
A local court in Shenyang, northeastern China's Liaoning Province on Thursday accepted a case against a budget airline which was accused of denying travel to HIV-positive passengers.
The three plaintiffs, two HIV carriers and their friend, were denied boarding on a plane from Shenyang to Shijiazhuang on July 28. They accused the airline company, Spring Airlines, of discriminatory service and demanded an open apology and compensation of 48,999 yuan ($7,964).
Rights activists for HIV carriers believe the lawsuit is a landmark case for anti-discrimination.
The plaintiffs said they informed airline staff they were HIV-positive when taking their boarding passes, but they were then told of the cancellation of their tickets when they got in line to board the plane.
One of the plaintiffs, Cheng Shuaishuai, said he read Spring Airlines regulations stating that HIV-positive passengers should not be transported.
The regulation was deleted from the Spring Airlines website on August 5.
"The court's acceptance of this case signaled that HIV carriers can protect their rights through legal channels," Cheng, a Henan-based volunteer promoting HIV carrier rights, told the Global Times on Thursday.
This is the first case brought against an airline for discriminating against an HIV-positive person in China.
Nine other major airlines in China, including Air China and China Eastern Airlines, reported on August 1 that they do not bar HIV-positive passengers from their flights.
The President of Spring Airlines Wang Zhenghua on Tuesday said that the company did not discriminate against HIV carriers and explained that this incident occurred because the staff in the airport felt nervous. He expected HIV carriers to bear the responsibility to protect other people. The head of the publicity department of Spring Airlines said Thursday that they have not received a notice from the court and they still stick to their previous responses.
Liu Wei, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, told the Global Times that this lawsuit will end in a win as the company's refusal is an obvious violation of China's AIDS prevention and control regulations, which state that no organizations or individuals can discriminate against HIV carriers.