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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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LGBT Policy Spotlight: HIV Criminalization Laws

The Bottom Line

LGBT Policy Spotlight: HIV Criminalization Laws examines the problematic basis for HIV criminalization laws and their detriment to public health and the justice system. Ignoring modern medical knowledge, these laws carry harsh penalties such as 35-year prison terms and registration as a sex offender for behaviors now known to carry no risk of transmission. These laws perpetuate dangerous stigma and misinformation about the disease and people living with HIV, create a strong disincentive for individuals to find out their HIV status, and disproportionately target LGBT people. The report includes commonsense policy recommendations to reduce the harmful consequences of such laws and encourages states to modernize or repeal their HIV criminalization laws.

This report is part of an ongoing series that provides in-depth analyses of laws and policies tracked at the Movement Advancement Project’s Equality Maps. The information in this report is current as of the date of publication; but the online maps are updated daily.

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