Last edited: December 06, 2004


Louisiana Upholds Ban on Oral and Anal Sex

Reuters, July 7, 2000

NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana’s Supreme Court has upheld a two-century-old law that makes oral and anal sex between consenting adults punishable by up to five years in jail.

In a 5-2 ruling on Thursday the court rejected the argument that the law violated the constitutional right of privacy.

"Any claim that private sexual conduct between consenting adults is constitutionally insulated from state proscription is unsupportable," Justice Chet Traylor wrote for the majority.

In a dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Pascal Calogero argued that the "sweeping nature" of the statute was an invasion of constitutionally protected personal privacy.

"I am of the opinion that the government has no legitimate interest or compelling reasons for regulating, through criminal statutes, adult, private, non-commercial, consensual acts of sexual intimacy," he wrote.

The Supreme Court was ruling in the case of Mitchell Smith, who was originally acquitted on a charge of raping a woman but convicted of sodomy after testifying that they had oral sex.

His conviction and a three-year suspended jail sentence were overturned on appeal but were reinstated by the Supreme Court.

Louisiana is one of 12 U.S. states that still have sodomy laws applying to both heterosexual and homosexual couples. Three more states have sodomy laws that apply only to homosexuals.

Sodomy has been prohibited in Louisiana since at least 1805 when it was a felony carrying a mandatory life sentence under the laws of the Territory of Orleans.

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