Legal Analysis: Appellate Court Rules Same Sex HIV Transmission is a Crime

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A stunning legal decision by the third district court of appeal out of Key West, Florida is going to forever impact the law on the prosecutions of same-sex HIV transmission in this state.

Florida is one of at least 32 states nationwide that have criminal statutes specific to HIV. However, a series of legal decisions in Florida banned the prosecution of same-sex HIV transmission, on the grounds that in Florida “intercourse” is only defined as sex between a man and a woman.

Those ruling led to courts overturning convictions of a lesbian couple in Tampa and a gay equestrian in Ocala. Similarly, a Key West judge dismissed a prosecution of a male-on-male HIV transmission last year based on those rulings. 71 other prosecutions in Florida have also been stalled due to the ‘heterosexual hookups only’ glitch.

However, district courts have concurrent jurisdiction, meaning one court’s ruling does not bind the other. And the 3rd District court of appeal would not abide by the earlier court’s rulings. The end result is that the legal conflict will now immediately go to the Florida Supreme Court for a resolution. It will have to decide which court to side with.

SFGN will cover this in detail in next week’s issue.  What do you think? Should HIV even be criminalized? And if so, should it apply to same-sex couples as well? Let us know, and maybe your thoughts will be in next week’s paper.


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