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Virginia Legislators Propose New "Crimes Against Nature" Law

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Virginia legislators have proposed a new bill that would reinstate many of the provisions found within the state’s former “Crimes Against Nature” Law, which controversally criminalized oral and anal sex even amongst consenting adults.

Although the initial "crimes against nature" law was recently ruled unconstitutional by federal courts, legislators have drafted a proposal that would change some aspects of the law while keeping certain provisions that criminalize oral and anal sex as felony offenses.

The state's initial law was struck down by a U.S. Court Of Appeals in May of 2013, citing the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court case Lawrence V. Texas in their ruling. That federal case held that "statutes criminalizing private acts of consensual sodomy between adults are inconsistent with the protections of liberty" outlined by the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause, according to Think Progress.

The new proposal makes it clear that anal and oral sex between consenting adults is a non-criminal act, consistent with the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment.

According to the Virginia Legislative Information System, the law “clarifies that engaging in consensual sodomy is not a crime if all persons participating are adults, are not in a public place, and are not committing, attempting to commit, conspiring to commit, aiding, or abetting any act in furtherance of prostitution. The bill states that an emergency exists and it is in force from its passage.”

The new proposal does, however, “restore felony penalties for minors engaging in oral sex and treat public sodomy differently from other public sex acts,” according to Think Progress. This, essentially, would classify consensual oral or anal sex between teenagers as a felony.

Despite the changes to the law, critics of the bill claim that it unfairly distinguishes between the same-sex practice of sodomy and vaginal intercourse. LGBT rights activists believe that the distinction unfairly targets individuals that practice consensual sex with members of the same sexual orientation.


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