The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is suing the state of Tennessee for its efforts to enforce a prostitution statute that bumps up prostitution from a misdemeanor offense to a Class C felony for individuals knowingly infected with HIV.

Under Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-516, individuals convicted of the offense could face up to 15 years in prison and pay fines of up to $10,000. They could also be registered as “violent sexual offenders.”

While the law was put in place to protect citizens from being intentionally or carelessly infected with a deadly sexually transmitted disease, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, led by radical Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke do not agree, as she and other agents argue that Tennessee’s statute is disguised discrimination.

Arguing that the law violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, Clarke claimed that the law subjects individuals with HIV to harsh criminal penalties solely based on their HIV status.

According to the lawsuit, the aggravated prostitution prosecutions also fail to consider that there have been advancements in HIV treatment and that those with undetectable viral loads have significantly reduced risk of transmission.

The lawsuit seeks four things; the first and second being that the court declares that the state’s enforcement of the aggravated prostitution law is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and that it rules for the enforcement of the law to stop.

The DOJ also asks that the court order for the removal of people already convicted under the statute from the sex offender registry.

Finally, the department is also pushing for compensatory damages for individuals who were supposedly affected by the enforcement of the law, as well as legal fees and other related expenses.

In addition to Clarke, the lawsuit effort against Tennessee also included Disability Rights Section Chief Rebecca Bond, Trial Attorney Ali Szemanski, Trial Attorney Stephanie Berger and Deputy Chief Kevin Kijewski.