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Stitt Signs HIV Post-Mortem Bill Called 'Redundant' by LGBTQ Advocates

Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed on Thursday a bill concerning the disclosure of HIV status of the recently deceased.

Advocacy groups asked him to veto it for being unnecessary and discriminatory.

House Bill 4041 made it out of the senate on Monday. It codifies law to require that funeral directors, medical examiners, and anyone else handling human remains be given a warning if the deceased was HIV-positive. 

Allie Shinn of the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Freedom Oklahoma says the bill, authored by House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka), is unnecessary because of existing regulations in the death industry, and wouldn't serve any public health purpose.

"There are already so many guidelines in place for the safety of people who are handling human bodies and human remains," Shinn said. "They are adequate safety measures, and they are safety measures that are in place that also treat the body with respect."

"What this law would do is not make anybody safer," Shinn said. "What it would do is lead to incidents of discrimination and revive tired stereotypes and stigmas that will harm people living with HIV."

Toby Jenkins, the executive director of another LGBTQ+ advocacy group, Oklahomans for Equality, said that his organization agrees.

"Our position has been the National Funeral Directors Association and OSHA [the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration] has procedures and best practices in handling deceased bodies," Jenkins said. "Follow those. Treat all deceased bodies with respect and as if they have contaminants and contagions."

Speaker McCall's office said they were unable to provide comment.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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