Florida Supreme Court Debate on Sexual Acts

Earlier this month the Florida Supreme Court discussed whether the definition of sexual intercourse should include non-traditional sex.

Florida’s Supreme Court Justices reflected on a law pertaining to those tested positive for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus made in 1986.

The law stated that HIV positive people must disclose their health status with their partners before engaging in any type of sexual intercourse.

Gary Debaun was charged with a felony after failing to tell his male sex partner that he was infected with HIV.

Brian Ellison, Debaun’s public defender, simply wanted the charges against Debaun dropped.  However, outside of court, Ellison told the Associated Press that positive HIV heterosexuals could use the same defense if they participate in anything other than traditional sex.

"In the history of Florida law the specific term, sexual intercourse has always been interpreted to mean reproductive sexual conduct," Ellison said. "It's not the way that I'd want to define it, maybe – maybe not the way you'd want to define it – but that's the way it's always been in Florida law."

Ellison did not try to justify Debaun’s actions, however Debaun did not violate the law as written; therefore, that is why Ellison feels the charges should not stand.

Records indicate that Debaun’s partner asked him for test results and Debaun gave his partner fraudulent results that stated he was free of the virus, knowing he was living with HIV.

Zari St. Jean, a third-year Chemistry student at Florida A&M University from Orlando, Florida, says the law was put into place to protect people living free of HIV.

“I would agree that when the statue was legislated, it was with good intentions to force people living with HIV and other diseases, be made to inform anyone that they could spread the virus to of their status,” said St. Jean.

Christopher Mahone, a third-year occupational therapy student at FAMU, from Jacksonville, Florida, said that no matter what type of sex you practice it is your responsibility to know your status and inform your partners of your status.

“Whether you practice traditional or nontraditional sex, if you’re infected with anything it is your responsibility of informing your partner on your health status,” Mahone said . “Although the Florida lawmakers didn’t include non traditional sex in the definition, the intentions were to force those infected, to give their partners a choice on endangering their own health.”

Briana Ross, a third-year elementary education student at FAMU, from Apopka, Florida, says lawmakers need to

be more specific and take everyone into account when making laws.

“It is imperative that the leaders of our state take into account everyone’s lifestyle when making life impacting laws such as this one,” Ross said. “Although the law was put into place to protect people, lawmakers didn’t take into account all types of people and all lifestyles. If more thought was placed into this law, this case would not be an issue.”

The state has appealed the case and arguments have been heard on whether the law should apply to all sexual acts. Depending on the decision of the Florida Supreme Court the definition of sexual intercourse will change or remain the same.