ACT UP: HIV+ is not a sex offense.

It’s not often that a People’s brief sparks a public protest. But when ACT UP got wind of NY District Attorney Bragg’s enthusiastic support for a Louisiana law singling out HIV+ persons for felony prosecution, they picketed his office.

The premise of the Louisiana law, wholeheartedly adopted by the People’s brief, is that HIV+ persons are so so reeking with the virus that they have to get “informed consent” from the other person before any kind of physical contact “for sexual gratification” regardless of whether it poses any risk of transmission. This, according to Louisiana, constitutes “Intentional Exposure to the AIDS Virus.” The penalty is mandatory prison time for up to 10 years at hard labor.

New York has no such law. What adult sexual partners choose to tell one another is their business. “Informed consent” is a concept from medical malpractice totally absent from the criminal law and not to be transmitted to government regulation of private sexual relations.

So NY has firmly rejected HIV-specific disclosure criminalization laws? No problem, says the People’s brief, we can get them enforced through SORA. Anyone convicted under a law entitled “Intentional Exposure to the AIDS Virus” should be publicly stigmatized as a sex offender.

The Appellate Division obliged.

Let’s hope a higher court knows better.

See here for more photos by Erik McGregor of the protest.

Photos by participants:

About Appellate Squawk

A satirical blog for criminal defense lawyers and their friends who won't give up without a squawk.
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