Last edited: August 08, 2004

North Carolina Police Continue to Lay Sodomy Charges, July 7, 2003

By Fidel Ortega, Newscenter, Miami Bureau

Charlotte, North Carolina—Police in Charlotte, North Carolina are continuing to press sodomy charges, despite a ruling from the Supreme Court that sodomy laws are unconstitutional.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are using the sodomy laws to arrest gay men in area parks and say the use of the law does not contravene the High Court’s ruling.

A spokesperson for the department said police will no longer arrest people they suspect are meeting in public and agreeing to have anal or oral sex in a home or another private place.

But, public sex is an exception to the ruling police say. Sodomy charges can also be laid in cases involving prostitution: Straight or gay.

North Carolina is of 13 states with sodomy laws. The Texas law was challenged by gay lawyers before the Supreme Court. (story) The court ruling made similar laws in the other dozen states invalid.

Gay rights advocates and defense lawyers say they don’t necessarily condone park cruising or sex in public places, but they argue that police are acting unfairly when they arrest people on suspicion of soliciting only certain types of sex in public.

“You can’t say, `If you talk about this kind of sex, it’s illegal and if you talk about this kind of sex, it’s not.’ The Supreme Court said sex acts for consenting adults are on an equal playing field,’ “ said Ray Warren in an interview with The Observer, a local paper. Warren is a Charlotte defense attorney who came out as a gay man while serving as a Superior Court judge.

Charlotte criminal defense lawyer Chris Connelly told the paper “the real tenor of this case is not does it happen in somebody’s home or somewhere else outside the home. It’s about people having the right to make a decision how to live their lives.”

But police officials say the Supreme Court decision involved two men who were arrested while committing a sex act in a private home. It didn’t address solicitation of a crime against nature in public, they say, so they will continue to make arrests for those actions.

Some members of Charlotte’s community claim officers entrap gay men by coming on to them in parks and other places and coercing them to agree to commit sodomy so they can arrest them.

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