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A man in Idaho is suing the state over its anti-sodomy law

A man in Idaho is suing the state over its anti-sodomy law

  • He’s suing because he’s been forced to register as a sex offender after having oral sex with his spouse in another state over 20 years ago.
The Idaho State Capitol building in Boise, Idaho

An Idaho man is suing the US state over its long-standing “crime against nature” law. The legislation prohibits oral and anal sex. Named only under the pseudonym “John Doe” in court documents, the man has the support of civil rights groups. This includes the ACLU of Idaho.

Although rarely enacted, it remains on the books. Because of this, those found guilty must register as sex offenders.

In this case, ‘Doe’ pleaded guilty in another state more than 20 years ago of a similar “crime against nature”. In his case, it was oral sex with his wife. Earlier this year, an Idaho prison released Doe after serving time for an unrelated crime; one that didn’t require him to register as a sex offender.

However, because he had a historical record that included the oral sex-related crime in another state, in Idaho he must now register as a sex offender.

Idaho not the only state to have such a law

Doe and his lawyers argue that a 2003 Supreme Court ruling against a similar law in Texas should overrule the Idaho legislation. On that occasion, SCOTUS ruled the Texas law violated constitutional protections under the 14th Amendment.

One of Doe’s lawyers, Matthew Strugar said in a statement, “Seventeen years ago, the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), declared that laws that criminalize oral or anal sex (so-called “sodomy” laws) were an unconstitutional intrusion on the privacy, dignity, and autonomy protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. Despite this ruling, a handful of stubborn states still cling to their unconstitutional sodomy laws.

“Idaho is one of those states. Its law (Idaho Code § 18-6605) makes it a crime simply to have oral or anal sex.”

He says Idaho requires people convicted of having oral or anal sex, “to register as sex offenders—displaying their pictures and home addresses on the sex offender website.”

Idaho’s specific law (18-6605) states: “CRIME AGAINST NATURE — PUNISHMENT. Every person who is guilty of the infamous crime against nature, committed with mankind or with any animal, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison not less than five years.”

Doe is not asking the court to remove the portion of the statute relating to sex with animals.

“The Boys of Boise” and prosecutions against gay men

The lawsuit’s named defendants include Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and other government officials

In a statement, ACLU Idaho added, “In Idaho and other states around the country, anti-sodomy laws have historically been used to criminalize sexual acts traditionally associated with homosexuality.

“From 1955 to 1957, Idaho’s Crime Against Nature statute was the primary legal tool for the “The Boys of Boise” affair—one of the most virulent anti-gay witch hunts in American history. Idaho’s Crimes Against Nature Statute remains virtually unchanged since its inception in Idaho’s territorial days.”

View the lawsuit Doe vs. Wasden here.

GSN has contacted the office of Attorney General Lawrence Wasden for comment.