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Thursday, May 30, 2024 | Back issues
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Texas Lawmakers Want Sodomy Law Scrapped

AUSTIN (CN) - Two Texas lawmakers want to repeal the state's law against "homosexual conduct," as unenforceable.

The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the law 10 years ago, but it's still on the books.

So state Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, filed House Bill 1701 , to repeal Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code.

A companion bill, Senate Bill 538, by state Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, has been referred to the Senate Committee on State Affairs.

The old law criminalizes homosexual conduct as a misdemeanor punishable by fine, including sex between consenting adults in the privacy of their own home.

"This antiquated law has been misused by untrained law enforcement officials to mistreat and harass Texas citizens," Farrar said in a statement.

"In addition to repealing §21.06 from the books, HB 1701 would also remove from the Texas Health and Safety Code the statement, 'homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense under Section 21.06, Penal Code.'"

The Supreme Court's 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas invalidated sodomy laws in 13 states. In the 6-3 ruling, the court established constitutional protections for sexual privacy and legalized same-sex sexual activity.

"The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. "The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime."

Kennedy added: "The present case does not involve minors. It does not involve persons who might be injured or coerced or who are situated in relationships where consent might not easily be refused. It does not involve public conduct or prostitution. It does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter."

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