Last edited: April 18, 2007



  • Statute: 566.090, Sexual Misconduct. Unconstitutional under Lawrence v. Texas. (Repealed July 2006)
  • Penalty: 1 year/$1000
  • Classification: Misdemeanor
  • Restrictions: Same-sex only

The Missouri Court of Appeal ruled July 6, 1999 in State of Missouri v. Cogshell, 1997 S.W.2d 534 (Mo.App., W.D.), that a revision of the state’s sodomy law had, in effect, decriminalized consensual sodomy in the state.

Attorney General Jay Nixon urged the court to reconsider or clarify its opinion, but the court has refused to do so, and Nixon, who has since told the local press that he believes consensual sodomy should not be a crime, has announced he will not try to appeal the ruling further. (The defendant in the case continues to serve prison time due to conviction under a separate provision of the penal code concerning sex with minors.)

Legislators who had opposed a law revision commission’s recommendation to decriminalize sodomy had insisted on an amendment to the pending law reform proposal, but apparently botched the job by producing a grammatically inept run-on sentence that was just ambiguous enough to give the court room to conclude that consent was a defense to a sodomy charge.

-- Lesbian/Gay Law Notes, October 1999
Editor: Prof. Arthur S. Leonard
New York Law School, 57 Worth St., NY, NY 10013
212-431-2156, fax 431-1804
email: or


"The Missouri Western District Court of Appeals issued a somewhat confused ruling that essentially said that if the act was consensual, it is not a crime. We do not know if the Southern District or Eastern District court of appeals will agree. We are deciding what to do. There is a possibility legislation will be introduced to clarify the state’s policy opposing queer sex. (Everything’s up-to-date in Kansas City!)"
--Jeff Wunrow


A word about terminology:
In Missouri criminal statutes the word "sodomy" is used only in the context of "forcible sodomy" (section 566.060) or "statutory sodomy" which refers to ages of the people involved (sections 566.062 and 566.064). Hence those of us working to repeal the same-sex portion of the sexual misconduct code are not working to repeal the Missouri laws with "sodomy" in the title.
- Alan Easton, member Privacy Rights Education Project (PREP), St. Louis.


566.090, Sexual misconduct, first degree, penalties

1. A person commits the crime of sexual misconduct in the first degree if he has deviate sexual intercourse with another person of the same sex or he purposely subjects another person to sexual contact or engages in conduct which would constitute sexual contact except that the touching occurs through the clothing without that person's consent.

2. Sexual misconduct in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor unless the actor has previously been convicted of an offense under this chapter or unless in the course thereof the actor displays a deadly weapon in a threatening manner or the offense is committed as a part of a ritual or ceremony, in which case it is a class D felony.

(L. 1977 S.B. 60, A.L. 1994 S.B. 693)

Effective 1-1-95


            1846     The Missouri Supreme Court, deciding a slander case involving an accusation of sodomy, publishes the word “fuck” in its opinion.

            1897     The Missouri Supreme Court handles the first reported sodomy case in the United States in which the defendant is a police officer.

            1915     A Missouri appellate court is the first to decide that being called a “cock sucker” was actionable as slander.

            1994     Missouri enacts a new sodomy law, but it is worded in such a convoluted manner that most attorneys think it criminalizes all sexual conduct, including by married couples.

Repeal Bill

    The Missouri State House of Representatives has passed a bill that expands the definitions of sexual offenses. House Bill 850/851 allows persons to be convicted of forcible sodomy, statutory sodomy, deviate sexual misconduct, and sexual misconduct in the first degree if there is a sexual act involving the genitals of a person and the hand of another person and the other current statutory elements of the crime are satisfied. Currently, persons can only be convicted of these crimes if there is a sexual act involving the genitals of a person and the mouth, tongue, or anus of another person. I believe this includes the portion of Missouri's sexual misconduct statute which makes consenting, same-sex sexual activity a crime.
    An amendment sponsored by Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson (D-Columbia) which would have removed the portion of the Missouri sexual misconduct law that makes consenting, same-sex sexual activity a crime was overwhelmingly defeated. For the full text of HB850 and current legislative action, see the Missouri House of Representatives web site at
   --Bruce Alspaugh, April 2, 1999

HB 1760 - February 12, 1998

Legal cases

The Missouri Court of Appeal ruled July 6, 1999 in State of Missouri v. Cogshell, 1997 S.W.2d 534 (Mo.App., W.D.), that a revision of the state’s sodomy law had, in effect, decriminalized consensual sodomy in the state.

In 1996 the ACLU of Missouri, with the assistance of volunteer attorney Robert Payne of Springfield, MO, is representing a gay man who was charged in an undercover operation by the Joplin police force with violating the city's "mashing" ordinance; the ordinance defines "mashing" as the use of words or acts "to annoy or attract the attention of any person by any suggestive act or word." From newspaper reports, as many as thirty gay men were charged with "mashing" in Joplin in April.




The bill for repeal of a portion of Missouri’s sexual misconduct law Section 566.090.1 is being promoted by the Privacy Rights Education Project, PREP. We have lobbied for repeal since 1990.

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