Former Labour leader says HIV positives should not be denied a tattoo

Kezia Dugdale and a typical tattooo of the 21st century.

By Bill Heaney

Never have I seen so many tattoos on display as there were at Ibrox Park today where Rangers beat Celtic 2-0 with goals from captain Tavernier and Arfield.

I tried to spot a player on the field without a tattoo but didn’t manage to do so. Did you?

The reason why I had tattoos in mind was not because I am fascinated by them, but because the subject came up at Holyrood last week.

It turns out that tattoo parlours are turning people down for a tattoo if they reveal they are HIV positive.

Kezia Dugdale, the former Labour leader in what could be her valedictory speech in parliament before taking up her new sinecure at the University of Glasgow, asked about reports that some tattoo parlours are refusing services to customers who disclose their HIV status.

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Minister Joe Fitzpatrick

The SNP Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, Joe Fitzpatrick, said: “Like the member, I am concerned to hear of the difficulties that some HIV-positive people are experiencing in getting a tattoo.

“I am clear that there is no place for HIV stigma in today’s Scotland.

“The standard infection control procedures that all tattoo studios should have in place provide protection against the transmission of blood-borne viruses including HIV.”

But Kezia was not happy with that answer and went on to ask the Minister to encourage local councils where such parlours exist to revoke their licences for this.

She said: “Will the minister confirm that it is a breach of the Equality Act 2010 to refuse service to somebody because of their HIV status?

“Will he encourage local authorities where such tattoo parlours exist to revoke the licences of those that are discriminating against HIV-positive people?”

But Joe Fitzpatrick told Ms Dugdale, who has intimated that she is about to quit her role as an MSP: “I understand that HIV Scotland is working with the British HIV Association to develop a consensus statement on this matter.

“Once that statement is available, we will ask local authorities to highlight it to all tattoo studios. What Kezia Dugdale described should not be happening in Scotland. We need to raise awareness, as part of tackling stigma, which I think we all want to achieve.”

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