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(The Center Square) – Tennessee's enforcement of its aggravated prostitution law against people living with HIV violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday, warning that continued enforcement could result in a federal lawsuit.
The Justice Department said the state, including the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Shelby County District Attorney's Office violated the ADA, the landmark 1990 federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Tennessee's Attorney General could not immediately be reached for comment after hours on Friday.
The Justice Department's investigation found that the state and the Shelby County District Attorney's Office "subject people living with HIV to harsher criminal penalties solely because of their HIV status, violating Title II of the ADA." Tennessee is the only state in the U.S. that requires lifetime registration as a violent sex offender if convicted of aggravated prostitution, regardless of whether the person knew they could transmit the disease.
"Tennessee's aggravated prostitution law is outdated, has no basis in science, discourages testing and further marginalizes people living with HIV," said Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. "People living with HIV should not be treated as violent sex offenders for the rest of their lives solely because of their HIV status."
The Justice Department...