Florida Court to Decide What Counts As Intercourse

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A law requiring HIV-positive people to disclose their status prior to engaging in sexual intercourse has forced an odd question before the Florida Supreme Court: What, exactly, does that mean? The attorney for one man charged under the statute argues that he can’t be prosecuted because his partner was another man.

Gary Debaun faces a felony charge under the Florida law, and his public defender, Brian Ellison, thinks this creative maneuver may lead to charges against his client being dropped entirely. “In the history of Florida law the specific term, sexual intercourse has always been interpreted to mean reproductive sexual conduct,” he told the AP. “It’s not the way that I’d want to define it, maybe — maybe not the way you’d want to define it — but that’s the way it’s always been in Florida law.”

While many HIV advocates argue that laws criminalizing Poz people who don’t disclose their status only serve to further stigmatize those living with HIV, the facts of Debaun’s case seem a little different: The complaint states that Debaun gave a partner who inquired about his status a false HIV test report — showing that he was negative — when he really knew he carried the virus.