Virginia Eyes New Sodomy Law
5 Years in Prison for Violations
January 14, 2004
By Doreen Brandt, 365Gay.com Newscenter, Washington
Richmond, Virginia—The Virginia
General Assembly will consider a new sodomy law when it begins a 60-day
The draft legislation was approved by the Virginia State
Crime Commission Tuesday. It prohibits sodomy in public but the commission
also recommended keeping a broader application in direct conflict with the
After the court struck down the Texas Homosexual Conduct
law last year similar laws in other states, including one in Virginia became
null. As a result the commission drafted the new bill to maintain the ban on
The court made it clear that its ruling did not legalize
sex acts in public, said Delegate David Albo (R-Fairfax) and chairman of the
Albo said some cases filed under the existing law are
still pending, so the statute should be left on the books until it is
specifically declared unconstitutional. If and when that occurs the commission
wants to have a new statute already in place.
But, even if the existing law is declared
unconstitutional in light of the Supreme Court ruling some Virginia lawmakers
want to keep it on the books.
A violation of both the existing law and the proposed
replacement provide a punishment of up to five years in prison.
Gay rights groups have complained for years that
Virginia’s anti-sodomy statute is used to target gays, even though it also
applies to heterosexuals—including married couples.
“That was our concern—that public sodomy would still
be a felony when other forms of public sexual activity are considered
misdemeanors,” said Dyana Mason, executive director of the gay rights group
Equality Virginia. “We fear this will continue to be used to harass gay men
across the state.”
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