- Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach stand up against the disclosure of sexual orientation and HIV status of drug suspects arrested by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
- The 28-year old beauty queen said that it is not necessary to bare confidential information about the suspects.
As an advocate of LGTBQ rights and a Goodwill Ambassador of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach took to Instagram in expressing her thoughts about the controversial disclosure of drug suspects’ HIV status.
On her recent Instagram post, the 28-year old beauty-queen stand up against the baring of mugshots, sexual orientation and HIV status of suspects.
“Universe, listen to this. A few days ago a drug bust happened in a high scale hotel in Manila Philippines involving 11 supposedly gay men. Two of them were suspected of selling/distributing drugs. During the operation, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) found out that one of them was HIV positive,” she started her long caption.
“PDEA and local news outlets decided to expose the identities of these men to the media. Their mugshots, names, and the HIV status of one of them were released. Was this really necessary?
Moreover, Pia cited Republic Act 8504 or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act, saying that it’s “illegal to publicly announce once’s HIV status.”
Under Republic Act 8504, a person’s HIV status is confidential except in specific medical situations and if subject to a subpoena from a court. It added that discriminatory acts and policies referred could be punishable by a penalty of imprisonment for six months to four () as well as fines.
“I understand that what the men were supposedly doing was illegal and they should face legal consequences. But there was absolutely no need to expose and publicly shame them. It’s illegal to publicly announce one’s HIV status (RA8504).
“What has been done has not only traumatized the men that were involved; it has also worsened the HIV situation in the Philippines. We’re working so hard on educating the people properly on HIV/AIDS, on taking away the stigma.
“Because of what PDEA and the news outlet have done, some people are now associating drugs and immorality with being gay. It’s ridiculous. The whole point of this drug raid was to arrest the men for their supposed crime, which was selling/distributing and using illegal narcotics. Being gay is not a crime! Living with HIV is not a punishment,“ she added.
Meanwhile, Pia urged the PDEA and media outlets to “mend the situation,” saying that the country “cannot take big steps back” on this issue.
“Come on, Philippines. We are already taking small steps forward to improve acceptance, tolerance and understanding. We cannot take big steps back. To PDEA and the news outlets, take steps to mend the situation,” she said.
“To my beloved LGBT community, stay strong. We’ll win this,” she continued.