DOJ Sues Tennessee Over Law On Prostitutes With HIV

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against the state of Tennessee and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) Thursday, alleging the Volunteer State’s law against aggravated prostitution, which places stronger punishments for exposing others to HIV, violates the rights of people living with HIV by discriminating against them based on their HIV status alone.

The Justice Department argues in its lawsuit that the enforcement of an aggravated prostitution law in Tennessee constitutes a violation of federal law. The DOJ says issuing harsher criminal sentences to criminals who expose others to HIV while exchanging lewd favors for money violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“The department previously notified Tennessee and the TBI that they violated the ADA by enforcing the state’s aggravated prostitution statute against people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV),” the DOJ wrote in a press release. “That letter of findings detailed the minimum remedial measures necessary to address the discrimination.”

“The enforcement of state criminal laws that treat people differently based on HIV status alone and that are not based on actual risks of harm, discriminate against people living with HIV,” said Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, in a statement for the DOJ’s announcement.

“People living with HIV should not be subjected to a different system of justice based on outdated science and misguided assumptions,” Clarke said. “This lawsuit reflects the Justice Department’s commitment to ensuring that people living with HIV are not targeted because of their disability.”

“Tennessee’s aggravated prostitution statute elevates what would otherwise be misdemeanor conduct to a felony because the individual has HIV, regardless of any actual risk of harm,” the Justice Department said.

“Aggravated prostitution is also categorized as a ‘violent s—ual offense’ mandating registration by those convicted on the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry, in most cases for life,” the DOJ added. “The state maintains the registry through the TBI.”

Conservatives panned the Justice Department’s move online.

“You could lose your job if you don’t get the jab but you can give the HIV at your leisure,” Dana Loesh wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“The Biden DOJ just sued Tennessee for making it a crime to knowingly transmit AIDS and HIV. They claim it violates disability rights. No, I am not kidding,” wrote End Wokeness.