Two times I have performed this manuscript in public. First time was at World Aids Day 2011. Second time was at the Syse-committee (who is put together by the Norwegian parliament to look into the law regarding decriminalization of HIV and other illnesses) 9th of January 2012.
My name is Louis Gay. I am 39 years old and HIV-positive.
I have been reported to the police, by one person, for breaking §155 (Norwegian HIV-criminalization law).
I have, by another person, been threatened with the same.
Those two do not know each other. What they have in common, are that both had a close emotional and sexual relationship with me.
Both knew that I was contagious.
Both expressed that it was their responsibility, as adult and responsible people, to choose me as their sexual partner.
Later when I did not want to continue the relationships, neither emotional nor sexual, they pushed this responsibility on me with the law on their side.
The relationships that did not last, ended in threats about police reports and eventually one report to the local police.
To day I know that the law text it self and the courts interpretation of it, makes this my responsibility and only mine!
The law is to protect the society. In every case where a person reports an HIV-positive to the police, it is “…for a crime against society”. The complainants own choices, responsibilities and actions are subordinated.
This takes away all incentives for the complainant, to critically review their own participation, before they report an HIV-positive to the police.
It is the police that investigate and the State Attorney Office that decides whether an investigation ends in prosecution or not. It is possible to argue that unjustified allegations will be “filtered” away from the justice system. But only us that have experienced it know how it sucks up everything in your life, leaving nothing but ruins.
It has been impossible for me to get hold of any data regarding how many violations of §155 that have been dropped compared with those being prosecuted. Neither Oslo police district nor the Attorney General Office has been able to provide any information about this subject.
Most people understand that the shame coming with being reported to the police, alone is enough to choose an anonymous life.
In different discussion forums for HIV-positive people, I have seen others telling stories like mine. One man writes:
“I have been in a relationship witch now is over, with an HIV-positive guy. I am not HIV-positive my self. I was tested regularly and we always used a condom.
We had a partly open relationship. I never told those I had sex with that my boyfriend had HIV. I felt that since I had tested myself and was negative, it had nothing to do with anybody. It was between me and my boyfriend and nobody else. I never took any chances with others and was always “safe”.
What I am wondering is if it was wrong not to say anything? One of the guys found out that my ex had HIV and now he is pissed and will not accept that I am negative and believe I have put him to the risk of an infection. He is threatening me with an attorney. I believe this had nothing to do with him and that I have done nothing wrong. I can not infect anyone with something I do not have myself.
Should I have informed him or did I do the right thing keeping it to myself?”
According to §155 everyone that have sex with an HIV-positive “…have reason to believe they are contagious”. There is no 100 % safe sex.
We might be a small group, but we need to be addressed.
With my own experiences I have felt on my body the enormous personal strain of living with this threat hanging over my shoulder. Just because I am HIV-positive.
Later I have tried to live together with an HIV-negative partner. We went to counseling together with a specialist and a doctor, to be on the “safe side”. We followed the guidance we got about protection and responsibility, in the way the health sector recommends “safe sex” and a sexual life within the boundaries of the HIV-negative partner. Never the less I made myself a criminal on a weekly basis, according to the court systems strict interpretation of the law, where even not “safe sex” (like the term usually is defined in information material) exempts for criminal liability.
Therefore I am depending on that my partners, old ones and new ones never change their personal view of a divided responsibility for our common sexual life together. If that happened it could mean new rounds of threats and reports to the police, for me.
This makes it impossible for me to have the trust and faith in my partners. In stead I am always suspicious with people that really just want the best for me.
To be living in a free and knowledgeable country, this is an unworthy situasion.
It is the task of politics to decide the laws. It must be a better way to protect the society, than making all HIV-positive humans criminals?
Please, help us to a more dignifying life.