Beginning in 2018, California law will have harsher penalties for health care workers who address a senior transgender patient with the “wrong” pronouns than for people who knowingly infect others with HIV.
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on Friday lowering the maximum penalty for knowingly infecting or exposing a person to HIV to six months in prison — down from a maximum of eight years. Also last week, Brown signed legislation allowing for penalties of up to one year in jail for health care workers who “willfully and repeatedly” use the “wrong” pronouns to refer to a senior transgender patient. (RELATED: Legal Experts: Transgender Pronoun Mandates Are Unconstitutional)
Democratic state Sen. Scott Weiner sponsored both pieces of legislation.
“The most effective way to reduce HIV infections is to destigmatize HIV,” Weiner told CNN. “To make people comfortable talking about their infection, get tested, get into treatment.”
Weiner has also dismissed concerns about religious freedom regarding the criminal punishments for health care workers who don’t use transgender pronouns.
“Everyone is entitled to their religious view,” he said. “But when you enter the public space, when you are running an institution, you are in a workplace, you are in a civil setting, and you have to follow the law.”
Opponents of the legislation disagreed. (RELATED: California Could Start Jailing People Who Don’t Use Transgender Pronouns)
“How can you believe in free speech, but think the government can compel people to use certain pronouns when talking to others?” Greg Burt of the California Family Council testified in July.
“This is not tolerance. This is not love. This is not mutual respect. True tolerance tolerates people with different views. We need to treat each other with respect, but respect is a two-way street. It is not respectful to threaten people with punishment for having sincerely held beliefs that differ from your own.”
Brown also signed another law last week that shortened the length of time some sex offenders have to remain on the sex offender registry.
That bill, too, was sponsored by Weiner.