Legislation & Lobbying

Can same-gender couples have 'intercourse'? Top state court likely will have to decide

It appears likely that Florida’s highest court will have to resolve a dispute about what state lawmakers meant when they made it a crime for those who are HIV-positive to have “sexual intercourse” without informing their partner.

An appeals court in Tampa said a woman in Manatee County couldn’t be prosecuted under the law, because the partner prosecutors say she didn’t inform is female. However, another appeals court in South Florida OK’d a case against a Key West man accused of failing to inform his male partner, the Miami Herald (sub. req.) reports.

Activists for same-sex couples are torn by the issue, the newspaper says. Although they want to see couples of the same gender treated the same way as opposite-sex partners, they also object to the law, which opponents claim imposes severe sanctions for conduct that is unlikely to prove harmful.

“It’s a progressive ruling, but the law itself is draconian,” said criminal defense lawyer Norm Kent of the ruling concerning the Key West man. Kent is also the publisher of the South Florida Gay News.

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