Speaking Out

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Fri Jan 8, 2010

Come On In, the Door’s Open – Finally

By Sohaila Abdulali

Yesterday Clemens Ruland and his partner Hugo Bausch arrived at JFK for a visit to New York. Ruland is HIV-positive, and the first positive person to officially enter the US after the Obama administration lifted the ridiculous 22-year ban barring people with the virus from entering.

Ruland and his partner sound like nice people. Ruland is a psychiatric nurse. He wrote a poem, which Bausch illustrated, and it won them this trip in a contest. But even if they turn out to be jerks who don’t give up their seats for old people on the subway during their trip, who cares? They have a right to come visit regardless of their HIV status, and it’s about time we let them come and hog subway seats if they so desire.
It seems particularly mean-spirited to keep him out given that he was infected here in New York. Since then, he has been back, but only because he lied about his status.

In those 22 years that the US screened out people with a disease that spreads only through bodily fluids, we’ve laid out the red carpet for:

*Countless hacking, spitting individuals spreading various viruses through the air
*Nazi war criminals
*Terrorists of all stripes

Given this list, it seems pretty silly to keep out a Dutch poet and his boyfriend.

So welcome, Clemens Rudland. Enjoy New York, and mind the gap.