Florida Supreme Court Provides Concrete Definition for “Sexual Intercourse”

Supreme Court

Following a two-year debate on the issue, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the term “sexual intercourse” encompasses same-sex relationships and non-traditional sexual acts, CBS reported.

The debate began after Gary Debaun was charged with violating a law that requires HIV-positive individuals to reveal their status before having sexual intercourse. Debaun had not told his male partner about the infection, and when his partner asked him to take an HIV test, Debaun faked negative results.

In February 2015, Debaun’s lawyer argued that the law did not expressly define sexual intercourse, so they couldn’t be sure that it extended to same-sex partners.

However, the Court unanimously ruled that the 1986 law was designed to prevent the spread of HIV, which disproportionately affects men who have sexual relationships with other men. Therefore, the definition of intercourse could not be restricted to heterosexual or non-penile-vaginal encounters.

Their decision stated, “Because the Legislature did not define ‘sexual intercourse’ … we look to the dictionary in order to ascertain the plain and ordinary meaning of the term.” They then provided definitions from three dictionaries as proof of the word’s broadness.

Debaun’s lawyer did not wish to comment on the ruling.

Read more about the story on CBS’s website here.

Written by Audrey Pitcher

Audrey Pitcher is a Media and Communications Studies major at Ursinus College. Ve is a board member of the Ursinus Gender and Sexuality Alliance. Ve also works as a writing fellow in the Center for Writing and Speaking, where ve helps fellow students improve their writing skills. Audrey was recently featured at Ursinus' Celebration Of Student Achievement for an essay on the mapping of femininity onto gay men in late 20th century theater.

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