The legislation will repeal section 19A of the Crimes Act 1958 – which contains a specific offence of intentionally infecting another person with a “very serious disease”, defined exclusively to mean HIV.
The law is the only HIV-specific criminal offence in force in any jurisdiction in Australia. It singles out HIV and unfairly applies a harsher penalty for its transmission.
The maximum penalty for the offence is 25 years imprisonment, even higher than the 20-year maximum penalty for manslaughter.
The law has never been used in the circumstances for which it was originally enacted – the deliberate transmission of HIV by a blood filled syringe.
The repeal of section 19A supports section 8 of the Human Rights Charter, which states every person is entitled to the equal protection of the law without discrimination, and the right to equal protection against discrimination.
The repeal, which was recommended by the 2014 World Aids Conference in Melbourne, aims to reduce the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV, and in turn promoting equal protection by the law of all Victorians.
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