Following years of negotiations between the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the AIDS Law Project (ALP) regarding the SANDF’s old health classification policy that excluded people living with HIV from recruitment, external deployment and promotion in the military, in 2008 the North Gauteng High Court settled the matter. Pursuant to an out of court settlement between the two parties, the Court declared such policy as unconstitutional to the extent that it violated the rights of aspirant and serving members of the SANDF to equality and dignity, among other rights.
On 15 and 16 May 2008, a ground breaking case on the constitutionality of HIV testing policies that are used to exclude ALL people with HIV from recruitment to, promotion or foreign deployment in the SA National Defence Force was heard in the Pretoria High Court.
The court was asked to declare the blanket exclusion unconstitutional, order the appointment or promotion of individual’s adversely affected by the policy and to order the SANDF to devise a new policy within six months.
Our constitution states that discrimination on the basis of one’s gender, sexual orientation and any unfair discrimination is not acceptable and yet by not employing people living with HIV or AIDS, the South African National Defence Force continues to discriminate against people living with HIV. The SANDF is exempt from key legislation which is the basis of South Africa’s non-discriminatory policy on HIV/AIDS. The support group debated and questioned why the law allows this kind of discrimination to continue in the South African Defence Force.