US: Louisiana police apologise for arresting men under anti-sodomy law

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Police in Louisiana have apologised – after two men were arrested under a defunct anti-gay law.

According to local newspaper The Advocate, the men were discovered having sex in the back seat of a car in Forest Community Park, Baton Rogue early on Thursday, February 12.

However, in addition to a charge of trespassing, the pair were charged with “crimes against nature” – under a defunct, unconstitutional sodomy law.

Lieutenant Johnny Dunnam of Baton Rogue police told the newspaper: “The officers made a mistake.

“The chief [Carl Dabadie] wants to send his apologies to those individuals for making that mistake and has contacted supervisors to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Sodomy laws in the US were declared unconstitutional in 2003, but just last year the state’s House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to keep a sodomy law in the state’s penal code.

The sodomy charges against the pair have been dropped – but the pair may still face action for trespassing in the park after hours.

Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU in Louisiana said: “It outrageous that we have people in this state sitting in jail accused of a crime that’s been declared invalid.

“The Baton Rouge Police Department needs to get the message that they can’t arrest people illegally.”

In 2013, the Baton Rouge sheriff’s office issued a statement denying that its officers used a defunct law to specifically target gay men.

Baton Rouge police made at least a dozen arrests of gay men since 2011 using an anti-sodomy law despite it being struck down ten years ago.

The city proposed a law banning discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity last year – but it was voted down by the city council.