OTTAWA (ON), October 20, 2022 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that our criminal justice system keeps communities safe, supports victims and holds offenders accountable, while respecting Charter rights.
As promised at the International AIDS Conference in July, the Honorable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canadatoday announced the launch of a public consultation on criminal law reform regarding HIV non-disclosure.
“HIV non-disclosure” refers to criminal cases where a person living with HIV, who knows their status and knows they are infectious, does not disclose their HIV status until sexual activity that presents a realistic possibility of transmission. . The consultation will seek feedback from stakeholders, people with lived experience and the public on possible criminal law reforms related to HIV non-disclosure. Participants are invited to share their views until January 13, 2023.
Currently, people living with HIV who do not disclose their status before otherwise consensual sexual activity can be charged with different offences. This includes aggravated sexual assault, which is the most serious sexual assault offense in criminal code. Indeed, in certain circumstances, non-disclosure of one’s HIV status may invalidate another person’s consent to engage in sexual activity. However, criminalization can lead to stigmatization of people living with HIV, which can often discourage individuals from seeking testing or treatment.
There have been tremendous advances in terms of HIV treatment and scientific evidence on rates of transmissibility. For these reasons, holding consultations is essential to creating a way forward that follows the science and protects victims while reducing the stigma of people living with HIV.
This consultation is part of the commitments made by the federal government in from Canada first federal 2SLGBTQI+ action plan, launched in August. Criminal law reform regarding HIV non-disclosure is an essential step to ensure that Canadian justice policy advances the dignity and equality of 2SLGBTQI+ people.
“HIV is first and foremost a public health issue and HIV non-disclosure is a complex issue. Our government recognizes that the criminalization of people living with HIV can lead to significant stigma and hardship. That’s why we’re consulting Canadians on the best approach to criminal law reform regarding HIV non-disclosure. This will help us find solutions and lead to better outcomes for affected populations.
The Honorable David Lametti, PC, QC, MP
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
An estimated 63,000 people are living with HIV in Canada. Among these people, it is estimated that one in 10 people do not know their status. In 2020, 1,639 newly diagnosed HIV cases were reported in Canada. The majority of people diagnosed with HIV receive appropriate treatment.
Current criminal law applies to people living with HIV who know their status and are infectious, if they do not disclose or present their HIV status prior to sexual activity that poses a realistic possibility of HIV transmission.
On December 1, 2017the Department of Justice Canada published the Criminal justice system response to HIV non-disclosurea report that included a summary of the scientific evidence on the sexual transmission of HIV produced by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
On December 8, 2018the attorney general of Canada issued a directive for the prosecution of HIV non-disclosure cases under federal jurisdiction. The guideline clarifies, among other things, that there should be no prosecution when an individual takes appropriate steps to prevent the transmission of HIV (such as taking appropriate treatment to maintain a deleted viral load), and that prosecutors must determine whether criminal charges are in the public interest.
Canada was the first country to publicly endorse Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) campaign in 2018. U=U helps people live longer by stopping the spread of HIV through prevention, testing and treatment.
The government of Canada supports a comprehensive approach to the fight against HIV and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs)) in Canada. Through his Five-year action plan on STBBIsthe government of Canada has made progress on its commitments to reduce the impact of STBBIs in Canada by 2030.
The Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan was developed with community leaders, researchers and organizations. It responds to the concerns of diverse members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities across the country and uses an intersectional, holistic, and long-term approach to breaking down barriers and addressing discrimination and oppression of 2SLGBTQI+ Canadians.
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SOURCE Department of Justice Canada
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