Title: Risky (legal) business: HIV and criminal culpability in Victoria

Authors: Annette Houlihan

Addresses: Socio-Legal Research Centre, Griffith University, 170 Kessels Road, Nathan, Queensland 4111, Australia

Abstract: This article examines HIV transmission jurisprudence in the Australian state of Victoria. It details the development of criminal legislation to respond to the issue of HIV and the application of these offences to prosecute charges of HIV transmission in Victoria. It also outlines the case law in Victoria. The article questions the juridical handling of consensual sexuality and HIV risk, within broader frameworks of moral panics about the Other. Same-sex desiring and African men have been the central characters within successful HIV transmission prosecutions, which attribute liability for infectivity within antiquated epidemiological narratives. In those narratives, gay communities and the African nation were positioned as original and perpetuating sources of infections. Medico-scientific discourses have since identified some behaviours as more risky for infection. Infectivity has also been measured as haphazard and random. However, crimino-legal narratives of HIV still rely on hydraulic and definitive conceptualisations of transmission, combined with panics about other racial and sexual bodies.

Keywords: criminal law; human immunodeficiency virus; HIV transmission; criminal culpability; Victoria; Australia; jurisprudence; criminal legislation; laws; prosecutions; case law; consensual sexuality; HIV risks; moral panics; other; otherness; same-sex desires; men; Africa; epidemiological narratives; epidemiology; gay communities; homosexuals; homosexuality; infections; infection sources; medico-scientific discourses; risky behaviour; haphazard infectivity; random infectivity; crimino-legal narratives; hydraulic conceptualisations; definitive conceptualisations; racial bodies; sexual bodies; race; liability; scientific enquiry.

DOI: 10.1504/IJLSE.2011.044087

International Journal of Liability and Scientific Enquiry, 2011 Vol.4 No.4, pp.305 - 327

Published online: 29 Nov 2014 *

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