Last edited: February 14, 2005

Rhode Island Legislature Votes To Repeal Sodomy Law

National Gay And Lesbian Task Force
Press Release

Contact: Betsy Gressler, Deputy Political Director,
202/332-6483 x3306
800/757-6476 pager
2320 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009

"Sodomy laws are the linchpin in attacks against the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community."
   --- Kerry Lobel, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Washington, DC---June 2, 1998-The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force today celebrates a vote by the Rhode Island legislature to repeal that state's 102-year old sodomy law. The repeal measure was approved today by the Senate and now moves to the governor.

"Sodomy laws are the linchpin in attacks against the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community," said Kerry Lobel, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "They are used to criminalize our behavior and are the basis for discrimination in employment, housing, health care and against families. We applaud the legislature for its vote today and also salute the tireless work of Rhode Island activists that made today's victory possible."

Called the "Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature Law," the statute applies to both heterosexual and same-gender sexual activity and carries a sentence of 7-20 years. A strong coalition of Rhode Island groups have lobbied for several years to repeal of the law, including the Rhode Island Alliance for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights. The Alliance is the primary advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Rhode Islanders, celebrating 15 years of service to the community.

In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court found no constitutional right to privacy for same-gender conduct in Bowers v. Hardwick. The decision, however, permits each state to decriminalize same-gender sexual relations. After the Rhode Island statute is repealed, thirty-one states and the District of Columbia will have no laws forbidding same gender sexual relations. Of the twenty states that will have sodomy laws in place, five state's laws apply only to same-gender activity - Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Maryland. Fourteen other states have an opposite and same-gender sodomy law - Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota.

For more reaction from Rhode Island organizers to the legislature's vote, contact Kate Monteiro of the Rhode Island of Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights at 401/863-1368.

To see a map of sodomy laws in the US, visit



Founded in 1973, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force works to eliminate prejudice, violence and injustice against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people at the local, state and national level. As part of a broader social justice movement for freedom, justice and equality, NGLTF is creating a world that respects and celebrates the diversity of human expression and identity where all people may fully participate in society.

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