The Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson of the Republic of Lithuania has determined that current laws regulating conditions for acceptance into assisted living facilities in Lithuania discriminate against people living with HIV or AIDS.
The study was initiated by a complaint in which one individual wrote that the administration of an assisted living facility refused to admit him due to his HIV status. In the complaint, he claimed that their decision violated his personal right to access needed services, integrate into society and live a full life.
The facility’s rules state that people living with HIV or AIDS are not to be admitted.
In Lithuania, conditions for admitting and accommodating individuals in assisted living facilities are determined by the Directive for Social Care Standards, approved by the Ministry of Social Security and Labor. In the Directive, it is stated that assisted living facilities shall not admit individuals who, at the time of accommodation, suffer from acute infectious or otherwise communicable illnesses, as well as acute psychosis. HIV infection status does not appear as a condition under which access to social services may be restricted, unless a doctor has confirmed a state of acute illness. During the investigation, the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson determined that regulations in the Directive were being inappropriately applied to individuals living with HIV, and that such conditions allowed for the adoption of other discriminatory acts.
The Law on Equal Opportunities of the Republic of Lithuania places the duty upon state and municipal institutions to ensure that equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities are protected by legal acts. The United Nations Convention on Disability, ratified by Lithuania, established the right of all people with disabilities to community living and obliged member states to take effective measures to fully ensure this right. United Nations member states are required to ensure that people with disabilities have as much of a right as any other individual to choose their living place and to make use of various social services provided within it and in their community in order to prevent social isolation.
“People living with HIV and AIDS are an especially stigmatized social group, therefore the state should take all the measures they can to ensure that these people are not rejected or discriminated against either on paper, or in practice,” says Audronė Daukšaitė-Timpė, the lawyer who carried out the investigation.
Parliamentary Ombudsperson Raimondas Šukys, who is currently filling in for the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson, appealed to the Ministry of Social Security and Labor, as well as the corresponding municipality, about legal changes that would ensure that one’s access to accommodation in assisted living facilities may not be restricted due to HIV or AIDS status.