Coronavirus is ravaging the US, but Republicans are busy making laws so funeral directors can be ‘warned’ about HIV in the recently deceased
The US is the country most severely impacted by coronavirus in the entire world, but Oklahoma is busy creating laws that would give funeral directors a so-called warning if a recently deceased person was HIV-positive.
There have currently been more than 75,000 coronavirus deaths in the US and almost 1.3 million confirmed cases.
But on Thursday (May 7) Republican Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 4041, codifying a law which requires funeral directors, medical examiners and anyone handling human remains to be given a “warning” if the recently deceased had HIV.
The law will become effective on November 1, 2020.
LGBT+ activists have slammed the new law as completely “redundant” and “discriminatory”.
Activists said that given that there are already so many guidelines and protections for workers who handle human remains, there is no need for extra warnings if the person was HIV-positive.
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Allie Shinn of LGBT+ advocacy group Freedom Oklahoma told Public Radio Tulsa: “There are already so many guidelines in place for the safety of people who are handling human bodies and human remains.
“They are adequate safety measures, and they are safety measures that are in place that also treat the body with respect.”
Shinn added: “What this law would do is not make anybody safer. What it would do is lead to incidents of discrimination and revive tired stereotypes and stigmas that will harm people living with HIV.”
Executive director of Oklahomans for Equality Tony Jenkins said: “Our position has been the National Funeral Directors Association and OSHA [the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration] has procedures and best practices in handling deceased bodies.
“Follow those. Treat all deceased bodies with respect and as if they have contaminants and contagions.”
According to Advocate, Governor Stitt previously expressed support for a law signed by his predecessor Mary Fallin, which allowed adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.