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Western Queens Assemblymember to Introduce Bill to Decriminalize Sexual Activity of People With STDs

NY Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas (Photo Instagram @votejgr)

Dec. 5, 2022 By Christian Murray

A western Queens assemblywoman plans to introduce a bill that would decriminalize the sexual activity of people living with a sexually transmitted disease.

Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas, who represents Jackson Heights and nearby areas, said she will be introducing a bill that aims to repeal the New York State Public Health Law 2307, a 76-year-old law that makes it a misdemeanor for any person with a STD to have intercourse with another. The bill would also expunge any prior convictions should it become law.

The law currently has no exceptions, including for cases when a person discloses that they have an STD or uses protection. The law broadly criminalizes all sexual activity.

A total repeal, however, would mean that an individual could no longer be charged under the law should they have an STD and not disclose it prior to intercourse. However, civil remedies would still be able to be taken.

“Our laws should reflect modern-day science,” said González-Rojas, who made the announcement on Dec. 1, which was World AIDS day. “We know that increasing access to testing, treatment and other resources helps to curb the transmission of STIs [sexually transmitted infections], not criminalization. This archaic part of New York’s Public Health Law belongs in the trash heap of history, and I urge my colleagues in Albany to support this bill in the upcoming legislative session.”

González-Rojas also notes that the law, while seldomly enforced, does put undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation and a conviction could make it difficult for someone to adjust their immigration status.

Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas represents the 34th Assembly District. The district currently covers Jackson Heights and nearby areas (left). Next year, as a result of redistricting, her district will be more Astoria focused (Maps: RedistrictingandMe)

Many non-profit leaders support Gonzalez-Rojas bill.

“New York has reduced HIV and STI transmission through progressive public health approaches, yet archaic laws that criminalize people living with STIs remain on the books. It is past time to repeal these stigmatizing laws, which disincentivize disclosure, ignore current science, and subject LGBTQ+ people, young people of color, and Black and brown cisgender women to unnecessary policing,” said Jared Trujillo, Senior Policy Counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union.

González-Rojas, however, is likely to face opposition when she introduces the bill, according to reports.

Assemblyman Jarett Gandolfo (R-Long Island) told The NY Post that he opposes it.

“Common sense dictates that the person you’re [having sex with] should know if you are HIV-positive, so they can decide if they are comfortable with it,” he told the publication.

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