Bill that would end California laws that criminalize HIV goes to Assembly

A bill that would end California laws that criminalize HIV is scheduled to go to the Assembly for a vote sometime before September 15. Photo: iStock

SACRAMENTO — A bill that would halt discriminatory California laws that criminal HIV sits in the Assembly awaiting a vote.

The Assembly hasn’t yet scheduled a hearing date for SB 239, but has until September 15 to pass bill in this legislative session. If the Assembly passes the bill, it then goes to Governor Jerry Brown, who has until October 15 to sign or veto the bill.

The Senate passed SB 239 by a 26-12 vote on May 31.

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

Between 1988 and 2014, at least 800 people were arrested, charged or otherwise came into contact with the criminal justice system related to their HIV status, according to a study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. Almost 400 people were convicted.

The study also found HIV criminalization laws disproportionately impacted women and people of color.

S.B. 239 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

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 LGBT 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 LGBT students.