Criminalising Consensual Sexual Behaviour in the Context of HIV: Consequences, Evidence, and Leadership

Posted: 20 Dec 2011  

Aziza Ahmed

Northeastern University - School of Law

Margo Kaplan

Rutgers Law School

Alison Symington

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

Eszter Kismodi

World Health Organization - Department of Reproductive Health and Research

Date Written: December 19, 2011

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of the use of the criminal law to regulate sexual behaviour in three areas of critical importance: (1) HIV exposure in otherwise consensual sex, (2) sex work and (3) sexual activity largely affecting sexual minorities. It analyses criminal law pertaining to these three distinct areas together, allowing for a more comprehensive and cohesive understanding of criminalisation and its effects. The paper highlights current evidence of how criminalisation undermines HIV prevention and treatment. It focuses on three specific negative effects of criminalisation: (1) enhancing stigma and discrimination, (2) undermining public health intervention through legal marginalisation and (3) placing people in state custody. The paper also highlights gaps in evidence and the need for strong institutional leadership from UN agencies in ending the criminalisation of consensual sexual activity. This paper serves two goals: (1) highlighting the current state of research and emphasising where key institutions have or have not provided appropriate leadership on these issues and (2) establishing a forward-looking agenda that includes a concerted response to the inappropriate use of the criminal law with respect to sexuality as part of the global response to HIV.

Suggested Citation

Ahmed, Aziza and Kaplan, Margo and Symington, Alison and Kismodi, Eszter, Criminalising Consensual Sexual Behaviour in the Context of HIV: Consequences, Evidence, and Leadership (December 19, 2011). Global Public Health, Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. S357-S369, December 2011; Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 70-2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1974569

Aziza Ahmed (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

400 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Margo Kaplan

Rutgers Law School ( email )

NJ
United States

Alison Symington

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network ( email )

600 - 1240 Bay St.
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2A7
Canada

Eszter Kismodi

World Health Organization - Department of Reproductive Health and Research ( email )

Switzerland

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