Biden’s Justice Department takes stand against Tennessee law making it illegal for prostitutes to knowingly spread HIV


Merrick Garland
Screen: 60 minutes

The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the state of Tennessee over its aggravated prostitution law, claiming it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The law, passed in 1991, imposes harsher criminal penalties on prostitutes who perform their work while knowingly infected with the HIV virus.

The law on aggravated prostitution elevates the aforementioned act from a misdemeanor to a crime “when, knowing that such a person is infected with the HIV virus, engages in sexual activity in a professional capacity or is confined in a place of prostitution or loitering in a public place”. for the purpose of being hired to engage in sexual activity.”

It also requires the offender to register as a “violent sex offender” for life and could face up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit claims the law violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Justice Department sues over Tennessee’s aggravated prostitution law

Addressing Tennessee’s aggravated prostitution law from a disability perspective is certainly interesting.

“The enforcement of state criminal laws that treat people differently based on HIV status alone and that are not based on actual risks of harm discriminates against people living with HIV,” the Assistant Attorney General said Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

“People living with HIV should not be subjected to a different justice system based on outdated science and faulty assumptions,” Clarke added. “This lawsuit reflects the Department of Justice’s commitment to ensuring that people living with HIV are not targeted because of their disability.”

They are not being targeted because of their disability: they are being targeted for an already criminal act which turns out to be heinous as it has the potential to change the life of the other party involved in such criminal acts.

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The difference with this “disability”

In the United States, HIV AND considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That said, not all disabilities are the same. You can’t pass blindness on to a colleague. Nor can hearing loss or autism be passed on.

What you can pass on is HIV, which, while great medical strides have been made on this disease, would still be a life-changing diagnosis.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit against Tennessee’s aggravated prostitution law comes after the department found the law was discriminatory in December, but the state declined to enter into negotiations.

This isn’t the first time the law has been challenged, as last year several organizations filed a federal lawsuit in Memphis on behalf of four “Jane Doe” plaintiffs and OutMemphis, a local nonprofit that serves the LGBT community .

The ACLU argued that the law disproportionately affects black and transgender sex workers who knowingly perform sexual acts for compensation while being HIV-positive.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit cites one particular “victim” of Tennessee’s prostitution law, a “black transgender woman” who was engaged in prostitution in 2010 despite knowingly testing positive for HIV in 2008.

The complainant was also arrested, the Daily Wire reports, for “prostitution near a church or school.”

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Rusty Weiss has been covering politics for over 15 years. His writings have appeared in the Daily Caller, Fox … More about Rusty Weiss

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