Snaps & Slaps

SNAP: Tanner Human Rights Center

The University of Utah’s Tanner Human Rights Center made an excellent move this year in creating its annual conference around the theme of violence and oppression against sexual and gender minorities. Under the guidance of such notable scholars and activists as Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, author Lisa Duggan and Utah Pride Center Transgender Youth Program Coordinator Rose Ellen Epstein, the conference took to task many of the obvious causes of this violence — such as anti-gay and anti-transgender legislation. Perhaps even better, it also addressed some potential causes that are often less obvious, like the gay rights movement’s recent focus on marriage rights to the exclusion of universal healthcare for all, regardless of marital status. Hearing different perspectives from a variety of professionals on topics related to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people’s oppression is one more way in which our local movement can be strengthened. Kudos to the Tanner Human Rights Center for being an integral part of this dialogue!

SLAP: SB 155

Not so helpful, on the other hand, is Utah’s Senate Bill 155, Enhanced Penalties for HIV Positive Offenders Amendments, which just passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Basically, this bill would charge prostitutes and their patrons with third degree felonies if they “knew or should have known” they are HIV-positive, and would allow law officers to deliver HIV test results to these offenders without a health official present. Of course, knowingly spreading HIV is not OK, but we share activist David Nelson’s view that many of these bill’s provisions aren’t OK, either. First, the bill would violate federal health information privacy laws. Second, forcing the HIV positive person to sign off on the fact they’ve received notice of being HIV positive sounds a lot like self-incrimination to us. We urge the Utah Senate to disagree and bounce this bill back to the Rules Committee so it can be made constitutional and more in line with treating infection, or better yet abandoned altogether.

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