Last edited: February 14, 2005


Louisiana Upholds Sodomy Law

Associated Press, July 7, 2000

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana’s Supreme Court has upheld the state’s 195-year-old sodomy law, under which consenting adults could receive up to five years in prison for engaging in oral or anal sex.

"Simply put, commission of what the Legislature determines as an immoral act, even if consensual and private, is an injury against society itself," Justice Chet Traylor wrote in Thursday’s 5-2 decision.

In their dissent, Chief Justice Pascal Calogero Jr. and Justice Harry Lemmon said the law represents an intrusion of government into citizens’ homes.

"The only apparent purpose of the prohibition is to dictate the type of sex that is acceptable to legislators," Lemmon wrote. "Two married persons should be able to choose how they conduct their nonpublic, voluntary sexual relations in the security of their own home; a law that takes that choice away from them is an intrusion by the legislative branch that is constitutionally intolerable."

The ruling did not affect a pending civil lawsuit, filed by gay-rights advocates, challenging the sodomy law on different issues.

A state judge had thrown out the law in March, saying it unconstitutionally criminalizes private sexual behavior by adults. A month earlier, the state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the conviction of a man who had oral sex with a woman. The appeals court said the law violated privacy rights.

The Supreme Court reinstated the man’s conviction for a crime against nature and his suspended three-year jail sentence.

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