New York Deletes ‘Sodomy’ from Its Laws
/ PlanetOut.com Network, June 20, 2003
SUMMARY: To the delight of gay rights advocates, the
state of New York moved on Friday to remove the terms “sodomy” and
“deviate sexual intercourse” from its laws.
To the delight of gay rights advocates, the state of New
York moved on Friday to remove the terms “sodomy” and “deviate sexual
intercourse” from its laws.
New York Gov. George Pataki and the two leaders of the
state Senate and Assembly made a three-way agreement on Thursday to alter the
terminology, according to a press release from the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA),
New York’s largest GLBT rights group.
“This agreement will mean the last vestiges of New
York’s sorry history of stigmatizing homosexuality will be wiped off the
books,” said Alan Van Capelle, ESPA’s executive director. “We are elated
that the Assembly, Senate and governor came together and fulfilled a promise
they made in 2000 to remove the insulting, anachronistic and stigmatizing
terms from state law.”
The Senate passed the bill removing the language on
Friday morning, and the Assembly was expected to follow suit later on Friday
Sex assault crimes in New York were categorized for
decades as rape and sodomy. The definition of rape was a crime of “sexual
intercourse,” while the crime of sodomy was defined as “deviate sexual
Advocates for victims of sexual assault also welcomed
“It has been excruciating for a woman who has been
raped to be told, read in the papers, have to sign complaints and testify on
the stand that she was ‘sodomized’ or subjected to ‘deviate sexual
intercourse,’” said Susan Xenarios, director of the St. Luke’s-Roosevelt
Hospital Crime Victims Treatment Center.
ESPA said that because of a misinterpretation of the
Sodom and Gomorrah story in the Bible, many people associated “sodomy”
with gay sex, when in fact the overwhelming majority of sodomy crime charges
in New York involve oral sexual assaults by men against women.
State sodomy laws that target gay sexual activity are
under scrutiny by the U.S. Supreme Court, and the justices are scheduled to
rule next week on a challenge to Texas’ sodomy law.
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