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UK: Equalities minister writes to Iain Duncan Smith after HIV positive man left feeling ‘ashamed’ at job centre

February 20, 2013
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Equalities Minister Helen Grant has written to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith after a gay man in her Maidstone constituency was left humiliated by staff at a job centre.

Jayce Carberry said he was made to declare his HIV status within earshot of others, and told he had to see a disability adviser.

“His [the adviser’s] reply was I’ll have to speak to my legal team to see if we have to disclose your HIV status to any members of the staff you come into contact with in this building,” Mr Carberry said to the BBC in an interview.

“Obviously I was a bit speechless.

“For somebody to make a comment like that, it just takes you all the way back to the beginning and your self-esteem is shattered, you go back to feeling ashamed.

“You’re subjected to that stigma and it’s really upsetting.”

Mr Carberry wrote about his experience last week on his blog ‘Just Jayce’ and said: “I have NEVER felt more humiliated in my entire life; NEVER have I felt so ashamed of myself!”

He also spoke of facing discrimination from his ex-employer. “I lost my career because of being [HIV] positive. I was told by not just my ex-boss, but friend, that she couldn’t ‘risk the reputation of the salon’ by employing me, and over half of my private clients have said they don’t feel comfortable with me handling sharps around them i.e. my scissors.”

In response, Kent MP and Equalities Minister Helen Grant said she had written to the job centre and to her Tory colleague Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith over the matter.

Ms Grant said: “It’s absolutely right that if people like Jayce do what they’ve done – go out, try to get work – that they should be given all the help and support that they need and deserve and at the same time, they must be treated with absolute dignity and respect.”

The Department for Work and Pensions, which speaks for job centres, said people did not officially have to declare medical conditions when applying for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

More: BBC, conservative mp, department for work and pensions, Discrimination, Employment, England, Equalities Minister Helen Grant, gay man, Helen Grant, HIV, hiv status, HIV-positive, Iain Duncan Smith, Kent, tory mp, Work and Pensions Secretary

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