Rpld §2307, Pub Health L; amd §160.50, CP L; amd §15.10, Pen L
Relates to criminal liability for person living with sexually transmitted infections who engage in sexual activity; repeals provisions relating to persons knowing themselves to be infected with venereal disease.
NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A3347
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the criminal procedure law and the penal law, in
relation to criminal liability for persons living with sexually trans-
mitted infections who engage in sexual activity; and to repeal section
2307 of the public health law relating to persons knowing themselves to
be infected with venereal disease
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
This bill decriminalizes people living with sexual transmitted
infections who engage in consensual sexual activity.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 declares the ameliorative intent of the legislation.
§ 2 repeals Section 2307 of the public health law.
§ 3 amends Section 160.50 of the criminal procedure law to permit
expungement for individuals previously convicted under Section 2307 of
the public health law.
§ 4 creates a defense to ensure that consensual sexual conduct does not
create criminal liability.
New York's HIV and STI criminalization law, Public Health Law § 2307, is
at odds with modern public health policy. The law first came into effect
into 1909 to control the spread of venereal disease solely to the armed
forces. During the World War II era combatting STIs became a national
priority because, at the time, medical treatment took soldiers out of
commission for months. In 1946 the legislature made the law applicable
for the first time to the entire public. 76 years later the law, still
based on obsolete medicine and history, remains an unchanged relic.
Modern medicine knows that widespread testing is essential to treating
and reducing transmission of all diseases; yet this law disincentivizes
testing for some diseases as knowledge of one's status could lead to
prosecution. There is no research or data supporting the idea that laws
criminalizing diseases do anything to lower transmission rates or
encourage treatment or disclosure of one's status. Disease criminaliza-
tion directly conflicts with public health goals and weakens any effec-
tive response from public health entities by promoting stigma and shame
that can delay or prevent treatment.
Moreover, PHL § 2307 has a disproportionate effect on communities of
color, especially LGBTQ communities of color. The law reflects oversized
fear, stereotyping of those affected by the disease, and assignment of
blame to already-marginalized members of society, such as the poor, sex
workers, Black and Brown communities, and new immigrants. When a disease
can be sexually transmitted, moral panic and stereotypes about the sexu-
al practices of these groups can lead to laws that punish and condemn,
rather than provide care. These criminal laws are based in an outdated
understanding of the routes and risks of transmission and reflect invi-
dious discrimination against people living with HIV and other stigma-
Repealing PHL § 2307 updates New York's law to reflect today's under-
standing that responding to health care problems with carceral solutions
is ineffective, stigmatizing, and discriminatory.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
This act shall take effect immediately.