Sodomy: Legal Definition & Laws

Instructor: Jessica Mercado

I completed my BA in Criminal Justice in 2015. Currently working on my MS in Homeland Security Management.

Have you ever wondered what laws are in place about sodomy? Or even, what is sodomy? In this lesson, you'll not only learn what the legal definition is, you'll also explore the laws that still address it today, even if they are not enforced.

Some Background

Sodomy typically refers to anal or oral sex, and it was once found to be illegal in the United States for both homosexual and heterosexual couples. This even included acts of sodomy in the privacy of your own home! Imagine this scenario: You're one of two consenting heterosexual adults that are married. You engage in anal sex, someone witnesses the act through your bedroom window, and reports you to the police. Now you're both arrested, and facing jail time. This doesn't seem right, does it?

Let's learn how this situation has changed over the years.

Defining Sodomy

Legally speaking, sodomy is defined by certain sexual acts. This includes anal and oral sex, but bestiality, sex between a human and an animal, can also fall under sodomy. These acts were once considered immoral and illegal for everyone in the U.S., but the main target for punishing sodomy crimes were homosexuals.

Sodomy Laws by State

This section covers the states that still have sodomy laws in place. While forcible sodomy can still lead to charges against the offender, the Lawrence v. Texas (2003) Supreme Court decision (which we'll discuss more below) finds sodomy laws unconstitutional if the act is consensual. The following states, however, have still not removed their sodomy statutes, many of which (but not all) cover more than just consenting sexual acts.

Alabama

  • Section 13A-6-63 (2016), Sodomy in the first degree: This includes when any individual engages in deviant sexual intercourse with someone who does not consent, or who is mentally or physically incapable of giving consent. It also includes when someone is over the age of 16 has sexual intercourse with an individual who is under the age of 12. Alabama considers this a Class A felony.
  • Section 13A-6-64 (2016), Sodomy in the second degree: This includes any individual who is 16 years of age or older who has sexual intercourse with an individual who is older than 12, but is younger than 16. It also includes when an individual engages in sexual intercourse with another individual who is mentally incapable of giving consent. Alabama considers this a Class B felony.

Florida

  • Ch 800 Section 2, Unnatural and lascivious act (2016): Any individual who commits these types of acts with another individual, commits a misdemeanor of the second degree. This includes acts of sodomy.
  • Ch 800 Section 4 Lewd or lascivious act (2016): This section relates to sodomy by including individuals who encourage or force minors under the age of 16 to participate in acts of sodomy. This is a second degree felony.

Georgia

  • Ch 16-6-2, Sodomy; aggravated sodomy (2016): When any individual forces someone else, against their consent, to engage in acts of sodomy. This could also include committing acts of sodomy against a child of 10 years of age or less. This is considered a felonious act. The section also stipulates that if an individual is under 18 and no more than four years older than their consenting sexual partner, they will be charged with a misdemeanor.

Idaho

  • Ch 66 Section 18-6606, Crimes against nature (2016): This section includes acts of penetration, which can include acts of sodomy. It is a felonious act.

Louisiana

  • RS 14:43.3, Oral sexual battery (2016): This is when there is a victim under the age of 15, or is at least three years younger than the offender. This section also includes when the offender is at least 17 years of age and the victim is paralyzed and did not give consent, is mentally incapable of understanding the act and can't give consent, or is 65 years old or older and did not give consent.

Maryland

  • Title 3 3-321, Sodomy (2016): Any individual who is convicted for any act related to sodomy, will be charged with a felony.

Massachusetts

  • CH 272 section 34, Crimes against nature (2016): Any individual who commits sodomy acts against another individual or animal is considered felonious.
  • Ch 272 section 35, Unnatural and lascivious crimes (2016): These acts, which include sodomy, are considered misdemeanors.

Michigan

  • Senate Bill 219 sec 158 (2016): This bill states that any individual who commits a crime, such as sodomy, against a human or an animal will be charged with a felony.

Mississippi

  • Unnatural intercourse statute (2016): All individuals who commit a detestable sexual act with a human or an animal will be in violation of this act.

North Carolina

  • Ch 14-177, Crimes against nature (2016): If any individual commits anal or oral sex with a human or animal, which is sodomy, they will be charged with a felony.

Oklahoma

  • Section 5-888 (2016): This law covers forcible sodomy, where the victim does not consent to the act.

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