• U.S.

What Supreme Court Ruling?

1 minute read
Sean Gregory

Oops, our bad. But it was on the books! Such was the response, essentially, of the East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s office in Louisiana after the Advocate newspaper reported that at least 12 men had been arrested since 2011 under a sodomy law invalidated by the Supreme Court a decade ago. Most of these men were arrested after being approached by a male undercover cop at a park and agreeing to have sex at a private residence. They were all released.

The landmark 2003 Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court case declared a Texas statute prohibiting homosexual oral or anal sex–a so-called sodomy law–unconstitutional. But a sodomy law dating to 1805 that applies to all orientations is still in Louisiana’s criminal code, and similar laws remain on the books in at least a dozen other states. The Baton Rouge case shows that in some pockets of the U.S., gays still have reason to be wary of police. “Just because laws are not prosecuted,” says Kenneth Upton, senior staff attorney at Lambda Legal, “doesn’t mean that people can’t be harassed.”

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Write to Sean Gregory at sean.gregory@time.com