TALLAHASSEE — After tireless research, two years and three dictionaries, the Florida Supreme Court has agreed on a definition of sexual intercourse, particularly in reference to same-sex partners.

The need for a thorough investigation into the definition stems from a state law passed in 1986 during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Florida, along with Tennessee and Washington, were the first states to enact laws that criminalized the act of knowingly passing the HIV virus to a partner in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. 

In 2011, Gary Debaun was convicted of a third-degree felony for not disclosing his HIV status to his partner. According to a CBS News report, the male partner asked for Debaun to be tested prior to any engagement. Debaun allegedly provided false results knowing that he was HIV positive. 

The case was initially dismissed because Debaun's attorney argued that the law only defined sex as penetrative between a man and a woman and did not mention or define oral or anal sex between two male partners. Therefore, Debaun could not be convicted of the crime. However, the decision was overturned by the state’s Third District Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court was asked to further research and define the term.

In March, the Florida Supreme Court released a decision that said sexual intercourse is defined as "acts beyond penile-vaginal intercourse.” Furthermore, the Florida attorney general’s office claimed that “the purpose of the statute was to criminalize knowingly exposing another person to HIV and AIDS through sexual intercourse without first advising that person,” so the law applies to any person knowingly exposing a partner to HIV through any sexual acts in which the virus could be spread.

The Florida Supreme Court cited three separate dictionary definitions in its decision, clarifying the term for future cases brought to the state. Debaun's conviction will be upheld by the Third District Court, but it is undetermined if there will be another appeal.

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