Is the law on disclosure painting us in to a corner?
So I’m off to Toronto this evening for the big public meeting about criminalization that Tim mentioned in his latest blog entry. I could instead have gone to Peterborough where, by chance, there is also a public meeting on criminalization today. Criminalization is clearly a hot topic these days,
I don’t know why I’m kind of taking this personally. The law isn’t likely to affect me directly; I’ve said before I’ve been in the habit of disclosing, because it feels better than not disclosing. But I still see this as a personal attack. An attempt, and a successful one at that, to paint folks not really very different from me as criminals requiring punishment, public humiliation and imprisonment. And I hate that.
(For those new to this, the law is a bit complex, but the simplified version is that there is a duty for poz guys to disclose their status where there is a “significant risk” of transmitting HIV. Don’t do that and you risk prosecution. You only have to read the papers to know that’s not an idle threat.)
Now it’s being suggested that we not only need to disclose, but that we need to have some record of that conversation. In writing perhaps, or as observed by a friend. So if you thought verbal disclosure was hard enough, strikes me it just got one step harder.
Harder or not, that getting-things-in-writing thing may fit poz guys going in to a relationship, but it certainly doesn’t seem a good fit with how we relate to each other in baths, back rooms and other places where sex is a pretty anonymous affair.
So if that get-it-in-writing approach to disclosure doesn’t fit, because of the venue - you are in a room at the baths, for instance - all that’s really left is to practice safer sex. Always. No slip ups. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose; it strikes me as the right thing to do. Except I suspect prevention experts - and I’m not one - would tell you that didactic approach doesn’t work very well. We’ve always talked about choices. It’s why you don’t read “Use a Condom Every Time” ads much nowadays. It’s pragmatic rather than practical. and doesn’t recognize the complexities of human behaviour. Just like the law.
Wait. How about poz-on-poz sex? Surely that’s safe, legal-wise? Well, not so much, say the legal experts. Because of the danger of re-infection or super-infection or whatever the hell it is, the notion of “significant risk” in unprotected sex between two poz guys remains, So there is a theoretical risk of prosecution without disclosure, even in those circumstances, we’re told.
So it seems to me that gay men - or some of us - are being painted in to a corner and running out of options. In short, I’m thinking more and more that criminalization, for any number of reasons, sucks big time. Look how it even limits what we can say on this site!
Or did I miss something here?.