BATON ROUGE, La. — At least a dozen men since 2011, the most recent on July 18, have been arrested in East Baton Rouge, La., under the state’s unenforceable “crimes against nature” anti-sodomy law.
The arrests result after the suspect agrees to have private, consensual sex with an undercover sheriffs officer — there is no sex-for-money deal between the two, and the men do not agree to have sex in a park or other public place, according to an investigation by the Baton Rouge Advocate.
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District Attorney Hillar Moore III said he has refused to prosecute each of the cases because his office has determined that no crime had occurred.
Moore noted that public sex acts and the solicitation of “unnatural carnal copulation” for money remain illegal. But those elements were lacking from these 12 cases, and most of the men were arrested after agreeing to have sex a private residence.
After inquiries from the newspaper last week, Moore said he would meet with Sheriff’s Office investigators to discuss the implications of the 2003 U.S.Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down sodomy laws across the country.
But a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman denied that investigators had been misapplying the state’s anti-sodomy law, which remains among Louisiana’s criminal statutes.
“This is a law that is currently on the Louisiana books, and the sheriff is charged with enforcing the laws passed by our Louisiana Legislature,” said Casey Rayborn Hicks. “Whether the law is valid is something for the courts to determine, but the sheriff will enforce the laws that are enacted.”
Peter Renn, an attorney with Lambda Legal, said the pattern of “unlawful arrests over multiple years” suggests authorities are using stings as a means to harass gay men.