HIV is an incurable auto-immune disease that afflicts roughly
1.2 million Americans, predominantly non-straight men. The Biden Department of Justice wants to eliminate a law in Tennessee that might spare countless more Americans from contracting it.
A year after suing Tennessee over its ban on child sex-changes, the Biden DOJ has sued the state again, this time in hopes of killing a
state law that makes prostitution a Class C felony if a person knowingly infected with HIV engages “in sexual activity as a business or is an inmate in a house of prostitution.”
The law was reportedly reclassified as a “violent sexual offense” in 2010 due to the grievous, lasting physical harm it can result in. As a result, those so convicted are required to register as sex offenders.
According to the
complaint filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Tennessee and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation “unlawfully discriminate against individuals with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a disability, in their maintenance and enforcement of Tennessee’s aggravated prostitution statute.”
The lawsuit downplays the risks associated with HIV — a lifelong disease for which antiretroviral therapeutics
cost potential sufferers anywhere from $1,800 to $4,500 every month — and takes issue with the requirement that persons convicted of aggravated prostitution must register as sex offenders. After all, this can impact convicts’ employment potential and precludes convicts from hanging out alone with children in secluded areas.
The lawsuit cites a nameless black transvestite as a complainant “aggrieved” by the law. He was arrested in 2010 for prostitution “near a church or school” and pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated prostitution, having engaged in sex for money despite knowing he had HIV since 2008.
The transvestite alleges that as a result of the law — contra his conscious decision to sell sex while infected with a debilitating disease — he now has trouble finding employment because of his sex offender listing in the TBI’s registry; is precluded from spending time alone with his nephew; and cannot change his name to “match [his] gender identity.”
The DOJ claims that the TBI and the State of Tennessee are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by continuing to enforce the statute.
The aim of the lawsuit is to nullify the law; to remove all relevant convicts from the TBI’s sex offender registry; and to shake the state up for damages for “Complainant A and other aggrieved individuals with aggravated prostitution convictions.”
“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, discriminate against people living with HIV,”
said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ’s so-called Civil Rights Division. “People living with HIV should not be subjected to a different system of justice based on outdated science and misguided assumptions. This lawsuit reflects the Justice Department’s commitment to ensuring that people living with HIV are not targeted because of their disability.”
Brandon James Smith, Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti’s chief of staff, said in a statement obtained by the Associated Press, “We are aware of the DOJ’s findings, will give them appropriate consideration, and look forward to finding out more about DOJ’s apparent cooperation with local activist organizations and private litigants related to this matter.”
Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.)
suggested the DOJ’s lawsuit was evidence that “the fight is not in Washington. The fight is with Washington.”
The ACLU and the Transgender Law Center beat the Biden DOJ to the punch on attempting to decriminalize prostitutes’ intentional exposure of unsuspecting strangers to HIV. The Hill
reported that the radical groups filed the challenge in the U.S. District in Memphis on behalf of four plaintiffs and OUTMemphis in October 2023.
The complaint indicated that there were just over 80 potential super spreaders registered for aggravated prostitution in the state.
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