Gay men are being arrested by undercover officers in the East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff’s Department under illegal sodomy laws. Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux III is in charge of the department. The 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas declared such sodomy laws unconstitutional.
Undercover officers in Baton Rouge, La., have been soliciting gay men in parks to go have sex elsewhere and then arresting them. None of the cases have been prosecuted because even the local prosecutor says no laws have been broken.
A Baton Rouge newspaper, The Advocate, first reported the story, noting that the latest arrest, on July 18, was
… among at least a dozen cases since 2011 in which a Sheriff’s Office task force used the unenforceable law to ensnare men who merely discussed or agreed to have consensual sex with an undercover agent, an investigation by The Advocate has found.
According to a story by The New Civil Rights Movement, there are 17 states which still have anti-sodomy laws on the books, in spite of that 2003 SCOTUS ruling. Some of these “crimes against nature” laws include both heterosexual and homosexual “unnatural carnal copulation,” some are just targeted at same-gender.
From the New Civil Rights article: (emphasis added)
District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office refused to prosecute each one of the cases because his assistants found no crime had occurred. After inquiries from the newspaper last week, he arranged to meet with Sheriff’s Office investigators to discuss the implications of the Supreme Court ruling.
Casey Rayborn Hicks, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, denied that investigators had been misapplying the anti-sodomy law, which remains among the state’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,’ Hicks said. “˜Whether the law is valid is something for the courts to determine, but the sheriff will enforce the laws that are enacted.’
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 away from the park at a private residence.
It would be interesting to know if the Sheriff’s Office is so diligent in enforcing all other laws “on the books” which may or may not have been determined to be unconstitutional, but are simply outdated. For a few examples (and every state has such strange, dumb or just outdated laws on their books) of other laws the Sheriff’s Office could diligently enforce:
From Laws.com: “In Louisiana a woman’s husband has to wave a flag in front of her car before she can drive it anywhere.”
And several from Fun Laws:
“You may not mock contestants at boxing matches.”
“Snoring is prohibited unless all bedroom windows are closed and securely locked.”
“Goatees are illegal unless you first pay a special license fee for the privilege of wearing one in public.”
The Baton Rouge Advocate included this in their story of the zealous enforcement of an unconstitutional law:
Peter Renn, an attorney with Lambda Legal, the prominent gay rights organization, said the pattern of “˜unlawful arrests over multiple years’ suggests authorities are using the stings as a means to harass gay men.’
That would be one explanation for why the East Baton Rouge Sheriff and officers are so focused on one law, even when the District Attorney consistently refused to prosecute them.
(Sheriff Gautreaux Capture Via East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Deparment)