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Bill to end California laws that criminalize HIV to get Senate vote

A bill that would end California laws that criminalize HIV has cleared its second legislative hurdle and is scheduled to go to the full Senate for a vote next week. Photo: iStock/powerofforever

SACRAMENTO — A bill that would end California laws that criminalize HIV has cleared its second legislative hurdle and is scheduled to go to the full Senate for a vote next week.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved  S.B. 239 by a vote of 5-2 on Thursday.

RELATED: Will California’s HIV criminalization laws be changed?

A 2016 study by the Williams Institute, “HIV Criminalization Against Immigrants in California,” found several elements:

  • Among the 800 people who had contact with the criminal system related to their HIV between 1988 and 2014, 15 percent were foreign born.
  • A major impact for HIV positive immigrants is possible deportation, possibly a far worse outcome than the original sentence.
  • About 83 percent of the immigrants were born in Mexico, Central or South America or the Caribbean.

S.B. 239, which is authored by State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-SanFrancisco) is co-sponsored by ACLU of California, APLA Health, Black AIDS Institute, Equality California, Lambda Legal and Positive Women’s Network – USA.

In addition, it is supported by Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform, a broad coalition of people living with HIV, HIV and health service providers, civil rights organizations and public health professionals: the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project, the Transgender Law Center, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Free Speech Coalition, Sex Workers Outreach Project and Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education, and Research Project.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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