BEIJING, Jan. 6 -- Three civil servant candidates have filed discrimination charges against the Foshan Human Resources and Social Security Bureau at a local court in Guangdong Province after being denied employment for carrying the genes for Mediterranean anemia, reports the China Youth Daily.
The three young men, surnamed Zhou, Xie and Tang, passed the written test and interview rounds of the Foshan Civil Servant Recruitment Test last April.
But during an extra genetic checkups, they were found to be carriers of Mediterranean anemia genes and denied admission to the civil service, even though carriers of this gene show no symptoms of disease and can function properly in daily life and routine work.
They argue that their physical conditions meet the standards mandated for civil servants. Their vital signs are within the normal range and none of them exhibit any anemia symptoms as described in the civil servant health standards.
This is the first legal case in China to deal with discrimination against carriers of certain genes. The local court has placed the case on file.
Mediterranean anemia is not contagious and the most common symptoms are fatigue and weakness due to the lack of oxygen being distributed throughout the body. Sufferers of the disorder may also experience shortness of breath, unusual paleness, or a yellowing of the skin called jaundice.
Li Chunfu, an expert on Mediterranean anemia, said that around 12 percent of local people carry similar genes. "This huge group can live a normal life and it is improper to say they failed the physical checkup," he said.
"Conducting extra physical checkup items is absolutely prohibited by the government," said Lu Jun, from the Beijing Yirenping Center, a social service organization focusing on anti-discrimination. "And discrimination based on gene checkups must be stopped immediately," he said.
"Everyone carries numerous and different genes," Lu explained; "if we allow such checkups, none of us can escape gene discrimination."