Bill Would Repeal North Carolina Sodomy Law

March 14, 2001 12:00 am

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GREENSBORO, NC — An effort to amend North Carolina’s sodomy law to decriminalize consensual oral and anal sex is under way, reported.

According to PlanetOut, Senator Ellie Kinnaird introduced a bill to the state Senate last week that would exempt consenting adults from prosecution for “crimes against nature,” but would keep the prohibitions in place for acts done in public or for hire.

She has called the current law a “government stamp of authority” that “lawless people” use to harass gays and lesbians.

Nearly 400 people were prosecuted under the law last year. Conviction of crimes against nature is a felony with a maximum sentence of more than a year in prison.

Similar bills have failed in past years because legislative committees are reticent to bring them to a vote.

Lawmakers “are afraid of what could happen in an election because it could be portrayed in an unfavorable way in an eight second sound bite,” said Deborah Ross, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

Conservative groups are fighting the changes to the sodomy law, arguing that they amount to promotion of the “homosexual lifestyle.”

Gay and lesbian groups have successfully challenged the majority of state sodomy laws in the past few decades. However, 12 states, including North Carolina, still bar sodomy for both heterosexuals and homosexuals, and four states continue to prohibit same-sex sodomy only.

Jo Wyrick, executive director of Equality NC, a gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered lobbying group, said the current North Carolina sodomy law violates “a basic right to privacy.”

“I think most people take the attitude that what other people do in their own homes is their own business,” Wyrick said.

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