People living with HIV continue to be charged with aggravated sexual assault — one of the most serious offences in Canada’s Criminal Code — even where there is no intent to cause harm, no transmission occurs and the risks of transmission are negligible if not zero. This is a travesty of justice. Despite the efforts of the Ontario Working Group on Criminal Law and HIV Exposure (CLHE) to engage in good faith with the Ministry of Attorney General since 2010, unjust prosecutions continue in Ontario, ignoring medical evidence and destroying the lives of people living with HIV.
Now is the time to turn the tide. You may have seen that Ontario’s problematic approach to HIV non-disclosure has received considerable media attention in recent days. On December 1, 2016, World AIDS Day, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, denounced the overly broad use of the criminal law in Canada, acknowledging that “the over-criminalization of HIV non-disclosure discourages many individuals from being tested and seeking treatment, and further stigmatizes those living with HIV or AIDS.” Days later, on December 5, 2016, members of CLHE met with Ontario ministers, including Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, to demand action.
The momentum is growing and we need your support to keep the pressure on Attorney General Naqvi by requesting that he immediately take the following actions:
- Impose an immediate moratorium on all prosecutions in cases of alleged HIV non-disclosure, unless there is alleged intentional transmission of HIV, while law reform options are being explored and sound prosecutorial guidelines are being developed – in conjunction with the community –to limit the current misuse and overextension of the criminal law.
- Publicly state that the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) is committed to ending the overly broad application of the criminal law in cases of alleged HIV non-disclosure and to reviewing Ontario’s approach to these prosecutions.
- Engage in meaningful dialogue with CLHE as well as people living with HIV and scientific experts when developing prosecutorial guidelines and other responses to this issue.
There is an online advocacy action at http://clhe.ca/hiv-is-not-a-crime, where individuals can send emails directly to Attorney General Yasir Naqvi. We would also like to enlist your help in spreading the word to your communities, by promoting the link in your network and via social media, using the following hashtag: #EndHIVCrim
A sample tweet might read: Tell @Yasir_Naqvi to stop the unjust prosecution of HIV non-disclosure. Send your message at http://clhe.ca/hiv-is-not-a-crime #EndHIVCrim
Together, we can make a difference. Let Ontario’s Attorney General know that Ontario must finally show leadership and end unjust prosecutions against people with HIV.