Louisiana Police Arrest Men For Agreeing To Consensual Gay Sex Under Sodomy Laws


Police arresting a gay man in the 1960's.

New York City police arresting a gay man in the 1960's.

According to a special report from the Baton Rouge Advocate, the Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office is conducting stings to find men willing to have consensual gay sex and arresting them for crimes against nature. No money is discussed in these exchanges; the men are being targeted and humiliated under the state’s sodomy law, which has been unconstitutional since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling.

At least a dozen of these arrests have taken place since 2011, with the most recent taking place July 18. District Attorney Hillar Moore III said that none of these cases have been prosecuted because no crime occurred, but these men are still being arrested, temporarily jailed, and fined merely for agreeing to private sexual activity. According to a statement from Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office, the department clearly doesn’t understand that the sodomy law is unenforceable. In fact, she defended the arrests simply because the invitations for sex took place in a public park — even though the sex itself was still going to take place in a private residence:

HICKS: 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. Whether the law is valid is something for the courts to determine, but the sheriff will enforce the laws that are enacted. […]

The issue here is not the nature of the relationship but the location. These are not bars. These are parks. These are family environments.

Manchac Park, where the stings have largely taken place, has been known as a place where “cruising” for anonymous sex takes place, but neither talking about sex nor agreeing to sex are violations of obscenity laws.

When Lawrence was decided, then-Louisiana Attorney General Richard Ieyoub issued a statement asserting that the state’s anti-sodomy law could not be enforced, except in cases of prostitution and bestiality. Still, the law remains on the books, as it does in many other states. Two years ago, a sheriff’s office in Michigan was similarly found to be entrapping gay men under that state’s anti-sodomy law, which also hasn’t been repealed, even though it’s similarly unenforceable. In Virginia, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli is fighting to maintain a Crimes Against Nature Law that federal courts have specifically struck down since Lawrence.