Florida finally defines sex as not just between a man and a woman – after two years
Florida’s highest court has decided that sex isn’t just between a man and a woman – after two years of deliberations.
The state Supreme Court’s ruling was prompted by a case against a man charged with a third-degree felony for failing to tell his male partner that he was HIV-positive.
In Florida, it is illegal for anyone who knows they have HIV and is aware of the risks of passing it on to have “sexual intercourse” unless they’ve told their partner they have the disease.
Gary Debaun, 65 was charged in 2011 under this 1986 law after allegedly presenting his partner with a fake medical report indicating he did not have HIV.
Prosecutors have said that Debaun admitted the charge during a recorded phone call which police listened in on.
But in February 2015, Debaun’s lawyer argued in Florida’s high court that because the state’s laws were so narrowly defined, “sexual intercourse” only applied to heterosexual, traditional sex.
With the help of three dictionaries, judges have now cleared up the confusion.
“The term ‘sexual intercourse’ is commonly understood to broadly refer to several sex acts – including the sexual act at issue here,” the unanimous court ruling read.
“Because the Legislature did not define ‘sexual intercourse’ … we look to the dictionary in order to ascertain the plain and ordinary meaning of the term.”
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They concluded that the term includes “acts beyond penile-vaginal intercourse.”
The court added that the law, created in the midst of the US AIDS crisis, was not intended to be restricted to heterosexual sex, especially as gay and bisexual men were disproportionately affected by HIV.
Assistant state attorney Colleen Dunn, who brought the charges against Debaun nearly six years ago, said the decision had “been a long time coming.
She added that when legislators “created this statute, they never thought that a definition of sexual intercourse would come into such play.”
The case will now return to the trial court.
Florida might also be set to buck the trend in the southern states and pass pro-LGBT legislation which bans discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender.