A group of community and advocacy organizations, including The Center for HIV Law and Policy, urged New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to issue an executive order prohibiting the practice by police and prosecutors of citing condom possession as evidence of intent to engage in wrongdoing, including prostitution-related crimes. In an advocacy letter sent to the mayor on January 22, 2014, the community groups explained that using condoms as evidence of wrongdoing is contrary to sound public health policy that encourages New Yorkers to carry and use condoms to reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. As the mayor contemplates reforms to discriminatory law enforcement practices which undermine public safety in New York City, community advocates urge the mayor to take action by issuing an executive order prohibiting the New York Police Department from confiscating, collecting, or vouchering condoms as evidence in support of prostitution-related charges. This advocacy effort builds on CHLP's work opposing condom confiscation, including presenting testimony before the New York City Council's Committees on Civil Rights and Immigration on June 18, 2013, on Proposed Resolution No. 710-A, calling on the New York State Legislature to pass A.2736/S.1379, which prohibits possession of a condom from being used as evidence of prostitution and certain other offenses. At the hearing, CHLP testified about the alarming trend towards confiscation and criminalization of condoms. This practice undermines HIV advocacy efforts and public health campaigns, and results in the overcriminalization of women of color, immigrants, and transgender individuals. CHLP is also conducting community-based trainings, in English and Spanish, to empower and protect individuals and communities at risk of overcriminalization.
The Center for HIV Law and Policy is a national legal and policy resource and strategy center working to reduce the impact of HIV on vulnerable and marginalized communities and to secure the human rights of people affected by HIV.