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Gays in Baton Rouge arrested under invalid sodomy law

ASSOCIATED PRESS

BATON ROUGE, La. -- An East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office task force has arrested at least 12 men since 2011 under a sodomy law invalidated in 2003 by the U.S. Supreme Court, a newspaper reported Sunday.

A July 18 arrest was the most recent for a man who merely discussed or agreed to have sex with a male undercover agent, The Advocate reported.

Although sex in public and solicitation of "unnatural carnal copulation" for money are illegal in Louisiana, neither element was part of these 12 cases, and most of the men were arrested after agreeing to have sex away from the park at a private residence, District Attorney Hillar Moore III told the newspaper.

"The Sheriff's Office's intentions are all good," Moore said. "But from what I've seen of these cases, legally, we found no criminal violation."

Metro Councilman John Delgado said Sheriff Sid Gautreaux owes an apology to the men arrested and the entire parish.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that a Texas law against oral or anal sex was invalid. Louisiana was among nine states which had such laws. Richard Ieyoub, then attorney general, said the high court's ruling made Louisiana's law unenforceable.

However, "crime against nature" remains part of Louisiana law, punishable by up to five years at hard labor and a $2,000 fine. The criminal code accessible through the Legislature's website states, without defining what makes copulation unnatural, that "Crime against nature is the unnatural carnal copulation by a human being with another of the same sex or opposite sex or with an animal."

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