Sodomy Law & Legal Definition


Sodomy is a "crime against nature". Sodomy laws generally criminalize oral or anal sex, between consenting adults even in the privacy of their homes. As recently as the early 1960s, all 50 states had some sort of criminal law that outlawed consensual sodomy. Today, less than a dozen do. Even though many of these laws target both heterosexual and homosexual acts, they are often selectively enforced only against homosexuals. Sodomy is also referred to as buggery.

By the last quarter of the 20th century, 46 out of 50 states had repealed any specifically anti-homosexual-conduct laws, and 36 out of 50 had repealed all sodomy laws. The remainder have most likely been invalidated by the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down Texas' sodomy law as unconstitutional.

The following is an example of a state statute dealing with sodomy, which defines deviate sexual intercourse as "Any act of sexual gratification between persons not married to each other involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another.":

"Sodomy in the first degree.

(a) A person commits the crime of sodomy in the first degree if:

  1. He engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another person by forcible compulsion; or
  2. He engages in deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless or mentally incapacitated; or
  3. He, being 16 years old or older, engages in deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is less than 12 years old.

(b) Sodomy in the first degree is a Class A felony."