Last edited: January 01, 2005


Georgia Overturns Anti-Sodomy Law

Associated Press, November 23, 1998

By James Pilcher

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Georgia Supreme Court today overturned the state's anti-sodomy law, saying it violates the Georgia Constitution's guarantee of a right to privacy.

The court voted 6-1 to overturn the sodomy conviction of Anthony Powell, who was convicted of sodomizing his 17-year-old niece in 1996. Powell's lawyers had argued that the sex was consensual.

The law has been the subject of previous challenges but was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark decision in 1986.

Chief Justice Robert Benham, writing for the majority today, said it "manifestly infringes upon a constitutional provision ... which guarantees to the citizens of Georgia the right of privacy."

In the U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the law, the court ruled 5-4 that that consenting adults have no constitutional right to private homosexual conduct.

The court reversed the federal appeals court ruling that the Georgia law, which defined sodomy as "any sexual act involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another" infringes on a "fundamental" constitutional right.

The Georgia law was challenged by Michael Hardwick, a gay Atlanta bartender who was arrested in 1982 for committing sodomy in his home.

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