Signing your life away: absurd defences against an absurd law

As Canada prepares its first murder case against a man who had sex without telling his partners he had HIV, support groups are urging infected people to prepare the sexual equivalent of pre-nuptual agreements (shall we call the pre-fucktuals?)

The wonderful Xtra gives us strategies for putting the lid back on the can of legal worms that this opens. They come courtesy of Ryan Peck, the executive director of the HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic (Ontario) (HALCO)

“He suggests HIV-positive people consider disclosing their status in front of friendly witnesses or a counsellor or support worker who’s taking notes.

He also suggests double-checking. “Have a friend ask the sex partner if they know about your status,” he writes. “If disclosure takes place online, make sure it is done clearly, ie not using code words. The sex partner should acknowledge the disclosure, and a copy should be saved and printed.”

Peck suggests that having a sex partner sign an acknowledgment would be legally ideal but unlikely. “Get your sex partner to sign a document before sex that says that he knows you are HIV-positive and that he knows what it means,” Peck writes. “The document should include the date and the partner’s name and signature. This is a good way for you to protect yourself. But it is also the most unrealistic strategy.”

Yes indeed. It reminds me of being hauled in front of a couple of buzz-cut marines at the US embassy in Jakarta for a mandatory security briefing. “We don’t care who you sleep with; men, women, whoever. But we do advise you to ask us to run a security check on them first, especially if they are a foreigner.” So hang on, I’m dancing in a club in Jakarta on a Saturday night and I find some nice Cuban guy who might actually consider having sex with a white girl over 40 (Alhamdulillah!) and I’m supposed to say: “Nice thought, but would you mind waiting until 9 am on Monday, when I can check with the marines?”

It’s not going to happen. Not the interested Cuban, very probably. But certainly not the pre-fucktual check. Just as pre-fucks won’t become the norm for HIV-infected people. Nor should they have to. There is not a shred of evidence that the criminalisation of HIV transmission has any impact on the spread of the virus. It’s nicely put by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network in their info sheet on the criminalisation of HIV transmission.

“In the big picture, criminal charges do little or nothing to stem the spread of HIV. However, they divert resources and attention away from the policies and initiatives that make a real difference (e.g., education, testing, support services, access to safer sex information and condoms, needle exchange programs etc….) The history of prohibitions on alcohol, drugs, sex between men and prostitution demonstrates that the criminal law is ineffective in deterring such fundamental, complex human behaviour. As for the few who act maliciously or with disregard for the welfare of others, there is little reason to think that a legal prohibition will have much or any deterrent effect. Finally, for people who are unaware of their HIV infection, the threat of criminal prosecution will simply be seen as irrelevant and of no deterrent effect at all.”

On the subject of daft and counterproductive efforts at criminalisation, this nice post from Tim Worstall about the upcoming battle to jail men for buying sex in the UK.

Thanks to Ickaprick and Ironpussy, and to Mark Zip.

This post was published on 05/01/09 in Ideology and HIV.

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  1. Comment by Mark, 11/01/09, 08:04:

    I wish I could find a clip online… There was a skit in on of the later editions of Chapelle Show (Comedy central, US) where Chapelle has a female partner fill in a “Sex Form” before they get busy. Oral? Check! Anal? Not this time! Skit concludes with her signing an NDA after the sex was not so good…

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