The bad news and “could-be-much-worse” news about HB369
Dear Friends of Equality Utah and the Utah AIDS Foundation,
Over the strong objections of a coalition of individuals and organizations in the health, equality, legal and civil liberties communities, Gov. Gary Herbert signed the ill-advised legislation that further stigmatizes people living with HIV on Tuesday, March 28.
Sponsored by Rep. Justin Fawson and Sen. Todd Weiler and passed just as the recent legislative session was ending, HB369 raises the penalty for people convicted of a sexual offense if they are infected with HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C, and if they knew they were infected at the time of the crime.
This is truly an unnecessarily punitive setback.
But, the bill could have been far worse. Earlier drafts included a provision that would have made it a felony for anyone not disclosing their HIV status before engaging in consensual sex. (Yes, really.)
EU, UAF and our partners were able to get that draconian measure removed from the bill, but unfortunately weren’t able to stop the revised legislation from passage at the last minute.
HB369 will only serve to further stigmatize people living with HIV and hepatitis. And it’s likely to lead some people to avoid knowing their HIV status. That will compromise public health and jeopardize decades of work to encourage testing and reject stigma.
As disheartening as this legislation is, it demonstrates that our work is not done. Along with our many and varied partners, Equality Utah and the Utah AIDS Foundation have no choice but to keep working to raise the awareness, understanding and compassion of our policy makers, and to reverse fear-fueled measures like HB369.
Our work at the state Legislature is a joint effort and we’re grateful to the following groups for their involvement in efforts to prevent and amend HB369:
ACLU of Utah
Statewide Association of Prosecutors
Local HIV medical providers
With the support of groups like these and committed individuals like you, we’ll continue to fight for what’s right and to ensure that anyone and everyone living with HIV receives the love, care, and dignity they deserve.