US: Louisiana committee votes 9-6 to remove sodomy law from penal code

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A House of Representatives committee in Louisiana has finally voted to remove a sodomy law from the state’s penal code, eleven years after it was declared unconstitutional.

According to the Times Picayune, the House’s criminal justice committee voted 9-6 in favour of Bill 12, submitted by Patricia Haynes Smith, that finally “amends crime against nature” laws “relative to certain provisions held to be unconstitutional”.

Louisiana laws that criminalised “unnatural carnal copulation” were declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in 2003, but the provision remained in the penal code.

Last year, it was alleged that some sheriffs in the state were taking advantage of the antiquated law to specifically target gay men by entrapment.

Gay men have been arrested in the state for “attempted crimes against nature”, for discussing having consensual sex in a private place with an undercover police officer.

Chuck Lowman of the Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge spoke against the bill, saying: “My concern is while we have to comply with the Supreme Court decisions, we don’t have to completely eliminate all of the punishment associated with this kind of behaviour.”

Shockingly, four Republicans, one democrat and one independent voted against the bill: Valarie Hodges, Sherman Mack, Bryan Adams, Steve Pylant, Mickey Guillory and Terry Brown.

The bill will now advance to the full House, where it will be discussed on Tuesday.