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Nevada

ACLU: Nevada’s ‘infamous crime against nature’ statute targets gay teens

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

LAS VEGAS — The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada wants a federal court to declare unconstitutional a state law that criminalizes consensual sex between same-sex teenagers as a “crime against nature.”

The lawsuit claims that Nevada’s “infamous crime against nature” statute creates a double standard that treats identical conduct differently based solely on whether the sexual activity involves same-sex or different-sex couples.

While the age of consent to engage in sexual activity in Nevada is 16, the statute criminalizes consensual sexual conduct with persons who are above the age of consent but under 18 if the conduct occurs between “persons of the same sex,” according to the ACLU. The law carries a possible five-year prison sentence.

Identical conduct between different-sex partners is not a crime.

On its face, the law discriminates based on sexual orientation in violation of the constitutional right to Equal Protection embodied in the 14th Amendment, the ACLU said, in a statement announcing the lawsuit.

ACLU legal chief Staci Pratt said Wednesday the civil rights lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Reno on behalf of a “John Doe” plaintiff.

“Elko County prosecutors used the law to prosecute a minor for a consensual sexual relationship with another teenager even though both of them were above the age of consent. If the couple had been a boy and a girl rather than two boys, their conduct would not have been a crime. More than anything, this highlights the necessity of removing this discriminatory, homophobic relic from our statute books,” said Pratt.

The teen was arrested last year in Elko County on juvenile felony allegations that he violated a narrow provision of state law applying only to relationships between same-sex people from 16 to 18 years old.

The teen later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct, but Pratt says the law is still on the books.

The suit seeks class-action status and names Elko County and District Attorney Mark Torvinen as defendants.

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15 more reader comments:

  1. the only crime against nature is going faster than the speed of light. Everything else that takes place within the universe aka “Nature” is natural and normal.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 3:39pm
  2. Like Nevada can make any claims on the natural world

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 3:40pm
  3. OMG!! WILL PEOPLE JUST STOP!!! The true crime against nature is all the HATE all these people spew!! When and if God comes down EVERYONE will be shocked on who he will REALLY JUDGE!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 3:41pm
  4. but Nevada allows a man and woman who just met to get married…smh

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 3:42pm
  5. Sad for Nevada.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 3:45pm
  6. ummm hard to enforce it anyway

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 3:47pm
  7. This from a state that contains Las Vegas.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 3:50pm
  8. Boo and friggin HISS!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 3:53pm
  9. Dont let this discourage you Nevadans. Obama is going to put an end to these laws even if they pass for a little bit. Go Obama!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 3:58pm
  10. I would love to hear from Mother Nature. Yeah, the same Mother Nature that invented the seahorse.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 3:59pm
  11. Nevada is just wrong.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 4:15pm
  12. um, okay so people who can have an unwanted pregnancy is okay, but sex for the sake of love with no risk of making an unwanted baby is bad? did I miss something?

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 4:41pm
  13. I sincerely hope the ACLU is victorious in getting it thrown out

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 5:01pm
  14. Nevada, you have LAS VEGAS…are you freaking serious? Morons

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 5:15pm
  15. Would they not first have to prove that its unnatural first, which they can’t do…?

    Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 6:21pm