BBC News: Singapore relaxes HIV-spouse ruling

Monday, May 29, 2000

Singapore relaxes HIV-spouse ruling

Foreigners with HIV are "prohibited immigrants"
Singapore has relaxed a ruling under which foreign spouses with HIV, the virus that causes Aids, are expelled from the country.

Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong was quoted by the Sunday Times newspaper as saying that most of the 12 spouses already repatriated would be allowed to return.

The spouses, four of whom had children, were married to Singaporeans.

Appeals of other similar cases would also be considered sympathetically.

Goh said the law had to think of the family. "The law cannot just apply without thinking of the consequences to the family," Mr Goh told a family forum.

"It is not meant to throw out people who are already permanent residents or visitors on a tourist pass [that have] married somebody here or have been here for some time."

Since April last year, 12 foreign spouses have been repatriated, of whom 11 were women from Thailand, Indonesia, China and the Philippines.

'Prohibited immigrants'

On Saturday, the government defended laws introduced earlier this year that require foreigners wanting to live permanently or work in Singapore for over six months to undergo a test for HIV.


Foreigners wanting to live in the country have to undergo an HIV test

"HIV screening of foreigners seeking immigration or work passes is a measure to safeguard public health," the home affairs ministry said in a statement.

Foreigners wanting to live permanently or work in Singapore for over six months have to undergo a medical examination which also includes a test for tuberculosis.

Singapore amended its Immigration Act in October 1998 to classify foreigners with HIV as "prohibited immigrants".

People falling in this category will not be allowed to stay and will be turned away should they attempt to re-enter the country.

The rate of HIV infection is low in the city-state, at less than 1%.