Reforming the criminal law regarding HIV non-disclosure – Online Public Consultation

Reforming the criminal law regarding HIV non-disclosure – Online Public Consultation

The online public consultation is now open.

The Government of Canada is reviewing the criminal law regarding HIV non-disclosure and is seeking feedback from Canadians.

“HIV non-disclosure” refers to criminal cases where a person living with HIV, who is aware of their status and knows they are infectious, does not disclose their HIV status before sexual activity that poses a realistic possibility of transmission.

Participants are invited to share their views on possible criminal law reforms related to HIV non-disclosure.

As part of the consultation, areas to be explored include:

  • Whether sexual assault offences are appropriate in HIV non-disclosure cases;
  • Whether intention to transmit or actual transmission should be requirements for criminal charges to be laid;
  • Whether criminal law should apply in cases where an accused has taken precautions to protect their sexual partner(s) from transmission;
  • Whether a new HIV, STI or infectious disease-specific offence should be created to address HIV non-disclosure cases.

At the moment, persons living with HIV who do not disclose their status prior to sexual activity that poses a risk of transmission can be charged with different offences, including aggravated sexual assault.  Aggravated sexual assault is the most serious sexual assault offence in the Criminal Code. This is because, in certain circumstances, the non-disclosure of one’s HIV status can invalidate another person’s consent to engage in sexual activity. However, criminalization can lead to the stigmatization of people living with HIV, which can often discourage individuals from being tested or seeking treatment. There has been considerable progress in terms of HIV treatment and scientific evidence on rates of transmissibility.

That is why holding a consultation and hearing from stakeholders and those with lived experience is key to creating a path forward that follows science, protects victims, and reduces the stigma of those living with HIV.

We invite your views by January 13, 2023.

How to participate in the online public consultation

  1. Read the consultation paper: view the consultation paper online or download a print version.
  2. Complete the online survey: have your say on reforming the criminal law regarding HIV non-disclosure by completing the online survey. You can also request a PDF copy of the survey and email us your responses at rsd.drs@justice.gc.ca.
  3. Send us your submission: provide your written comments on the discussion paper at the end of the survey or at the following email address: rsd.drs@justice.gc.ca.

Next Steps

Feedback received as part of the public consultation will inform next steps in policy development and serve as a key tool for any Criminal Code reforms.

Protection of Privacy

The Department of Justice is subject to the Privacy Act and is committed to ensuring your privacy and the protection of your personal information. Although participation in this survey is voluntary, your participation is encouraged. Please be aware that your individual responses, or responses provided on behalf of an organization are being collected as part of a public consultation and are not confidential. Note that organizations that voluntarily provide their organization’s name could be identified. That said, any personal information you provide in your survey responses will be protected and managed in accordance with the Privacy Act. The information you choose to provide will be managed in accordance with the Personal Information Banks – Outreach Activities PSU 938. The Privacy Act gives you the right of access to your personal information, if you choose to do so, please contact the Department’s ATIP office at ATIP-AIP@justice.gc.ca.