I’m Andy, and my partner is Rob. Our story started when we were living in a beautiful fishing town in New South Wales.
We loved our life, away from the rat-race of the city and near to Rob’s parents who are getting older. We were active members of the community, participating in charity events, working in the local café, and attending the local pub for a beer or two at the weekend with friends or with Rob’s family.
I’d been having some trouble with my health and so Rob decided to confide in one of our mates, Tony, that we both live with HIV. We’d been friends with Tony for a while, and thought he would be OK with it. Instead, he and his friend John made our lives hell from then on. They threatened us with violence, and yelled out “here come the AIDS faggots” when we turned up at the pub.
They told Rob’s employer at the café to fire Rob because of it, and told other locals not to go to the café because they would ‘catch AIDS’. It got to the point where we had no option but to move to another town as our lives had become unbearable and we feared that Tony and John would actually carry out their threats towards us.
HALC assisted us make a complaint of vilification to the Anti-Discrimination Board, and we were successful after a two day hearing at the Tribunal. It was a very stressful process, with three judges, but the fact that a HALC solicitor represented us made it easier. We were also very worried that our HIV status might have become more widely known as a result of the Tribunal hearing, but HALC made arguments on our behalf and the Tribunal agreed to close the courtroom to the public and to anonymise all the names of people involved in the matter. The Tribunal ordered that Tony and John had to pay us compensation, including the cost of us moving house.
It was a long hard road, but we really wanted people to know that you can’t treat people like this, just because we have HIV.
Help us to continue to help vulnerable clients, donate to our annual funding campaign below:
[all names and information that might identify any individual have been changed for confidentiality purposes]