Gag order lifted on identity of jailed transgender who didn't tell 3 men he had HIV before sex

Shaffiq Alkhatib
The Straits Times
Nov 21, 2023

A transgender streetwalker who had been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) did not tell three men about his condition before having sex with them.

One of the men, who was Mohamad Fazni Mohamad Azini’s acquaintance, later tested positive for HIV but court documents did not disclose if he had contracted the virus from Fazni.

Fazni, 38, was sentenced to three years and three months’ jail on Nov 21 after he was convicted of three charges under the Infectious Diseases Act. They involved the acquaintance and two other men who were identified in court documents as Mr E and Mr B.

There was initially a gag order on Fazni’s identity due to his medical condition. However, the prosecution applied for it to be lifted on Nov 21, stressing that such an order is never for the benefit of accused persons.

District Judge Marvin Bay, who agreed with the prosecution, then rescinded the gag order, adding: “The majority of the victims had only met the accused on one occasion.

“I am thus persuaded that... it would be highly unlikely that the identity of the victims... would be disclosed as a result of the disclosure of the identity of the accused.”

Judge Bay had earlier convicted Fazni of two charges involving Mr E and Mr B after a trial. On Nov 21, Fazni pleaded guilty to a similar charge involving the acquaintance.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) states on its website that HIV attacks the immune system and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids) is the final stage of its infection. Aids is fatal if left untreated.

While there is no cure for HIV, antiretroviral therapy can help to improve the immune system and suppress the viral load in a patient’s body to an undetectable level.

MOH said: “(HIV patients who) have an undetectable viral load have practically no risk of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners.”

Fazni had been living as a transgender woman from 2004 to 2014 and from February 2016 until now.

Court documents, however, identified him as a male. He appeared in court on Nov 21, sporting short hair and dressed in men’s clothing.

He was diagnosed with HIV and hepatitis C at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) in October 2007.

In his brief grounds for sentence, Judge Bay said that Fazni had worked as a streetwalker in the Geylang area where he offered sexual services to men for $50 to $350.

Fazni did not tell the men about his HIV status before having sex with them as required by the Infectious Diseases Act. He also did not tell them about the risk of possibly contracting the virus from him, as required by the law.

He first met Mr E in 2018 and introduced himself as “Natasha”. After Mr E agreed to pay Fazni $100 for an hour of sexual services, the pair had unprotected sex in a hotel in Geylang on June 27, 2018.

Fazni met Mr B in a hotel in Changi on July 24, 2018 where they had protected sex.

A medical report dated June 27, 2018 stated that Fazni’s HIV viral load was undetectable after he gave a sample of his blood for a test at TTSH earlier that month.

However, his viral load was found to be high in November 2018 due to his non-adherence to HIV treatment which usually involves consuming medication regularly.

That month, Fazni contacted an acquaintance via Instagram and the pair went to a bridal studio in Eunos where the offender worked.

Judge Bay said: “The victim asked the accused if the accused was ‘clean’, that is to say, the accused was not infected with HIV.”

Fazni replied that he was “clean” and the pair then had unprotected sex.

In February 2019, the acquaintance tested positive for HIV and confronted Fazni, who finally admitted to his medical condition.

The court heard that Fazni, who was represented by lawyers Suang Wijaya and Sophia Ng from the Eugene Thuraisingam law firm, intends to appeal against his conviction and sentence. His bail was set at $20,000 on Nov 21.

For each charge under the Act, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $50,000.

The Straits Times

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