Trans sex worker on HIV transmission charge

WA's Department of Corrective Services will not confirm whether a trans sex worker accused of knowingly transmitting HIV and who identifies as a woman has been sent to a male or female prison, after her lawyer did not apply for bail.

A trans sex worker, 38, who identifies as Ms Fox, appeared in Perth Magistrates Court after being extradited from New South Wales to Western Australia on Friday.

Ms Fox is alleged to have engaged in unprotected sex with a male client from early 2015, despite counselling about treatment options and disclosure obligations.

It is understood Ms Fox was diagnosed as carrying HIV in August 2014.

The court heard Ms Fox allegedly committed the acts between January 1 and September 25, 2015 in East Perth.

She was arrested by NSW detectives in Surry Hills earlier this week.

Police said the woman had been working in the Redfern area and was arrested at a Surry Hills hotel.

Ms Fox appeared very distressed when she faced court on a charge of causing grievous bodily harm.

She was wearing a black dress and was accompanied by a number of supporters.

Ms Fox's lawyer Martin Muk said he was not in a position to make an application for bail, and bail was also opposed by police.

She was remanded in custody to face court again on Tuesday.

The ABC understands Ms Fox is due to undergo an assessment to determine if she will remain in a male or female prison while on remand.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Department of Corrective Services said it would not comment on individual cases.

"All individuals are assessed and treated with dignity and care. Assessments include risk factors such as vulnerability and self harm. The department will comply with the WA gender reassignment Act 2000," he said.

Advocates concerned fair trial unlikely

Representatives from the advocacy group People for Sex Worker Rights in Western Australia (PSWRWA) were in court to support Ms Fox.

"We are here to support a fellow sex worker who is being vilified in the press," PSWRWA president Rebecca Davies said.

"We are concerned that the person is not going to be given a fair trial ... safer sex is the responsibility of everyone engaging in a sexual activity, not just one party."

Ms Davies said she was worried about where Ms Fox would be imprisoned, given she was a trans-woman but her birth name was used in court.

"It's my view that she shouldn't be put in prison at all, however if that happens it should be a female prison because she is woman," she said.

Ms Davies also feared the case would reinforce the stigma against people living with HIV, saying the release of Ms Fox's personal health information was inappropriate.

"When we criminalise HIV, people stop getting tested. This is a public health issue, not a criminal one. WA needs to get with the times," she said.

NSW Sex Crime Squad detectives are continuing inquiries into the woman's activities while in Sydney.

WA Police, who liaised with the Health Department during their investigation, said anyone with concerns regarding their own health was encouraged to seek medical advice.

 

Tags: Transgender, Perth

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