If you went to Sunday School (or saw “Ben Hur” with Charlton Heston), you remember how in Bible times persons living with leprosy had to carry a little bell and cry, “Unclean! Unclean!” so people could scatter from their path. No hope of a cure unless they happened to run into Jesus. (See “Ben Hur”).
Fast-forward to the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s. Myths about HIV transmission abounded. True, you could be infected from sharing a needle, but you could also be infected from sharing a typewriter.
Medical knowledge should have buried these superstitions with a stake through their heart.
Unfortunately, they were zombified in the laws of states like Louisiana. Down in the Bayou State, any physical contact by an HIV+ person “for the purpose of satisfying or gratifying the sexual desires” constitutes “intentional exposure to the AIDS virus” unless the partner consents. As construed by the Louisiana courts, “intentional” just means knowing that one is HIV+ , while “exposure” includes “sexual conduct that might be incapable of spreading the virus.”(Medical knowledge is still “uncertain,” explains the LA court. Any day now, the docs could discover that it spreads through shared typewriters).
So under this law, you can keep mum about having the clap, herpes, measles, or being married to somebody else. But if you’re HIV+ you can get up to 10 years in prison with hard labor if your partner says you never asked for a waiver before holding hands.
And this now this law is slithering into New York through the back door of SORA.
Under NY’s sex offender registration law, anyone living in NY who has to register as a sex offender in another jurisdiction has to register as a sex offender here. No matter how unconstitutional, discriminatory, or just plain ridiculous the foreign law the person was convicted under, the Appellate Division is happy to enforce it.
As everybody knows, the Appellate Division’s SORA jurisprudence consists of signing off on the People’s brief. And since every other page of the People’s brief proclaims that the defendant was convicted of deliberately exposing his partner to the HIV virus, the learned jurists of the First Department didn’t need to look any further.
But how could the Manhattan District Attorney support this law? We’re in Manhattan, New York, not Manhattan, Kansas, Toto.
ACT UP is asking the same question.
Yay for Act Up! Yay for the Squawk!!
Boo for the Appellate Division!!!
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