Virginia lawmakers repeal sodomy ban

More than a decade after the Supreme Court declared such bans unconstitutional, Virginia lawmakers have taken a ban on oral and anal sex out of the state code.

The move is mostly symbolic for private consenting adults. But because of the way the code was written, the “crimes against nature” statute was still being used to prosecute other sex crimes. Former attorney general Ken Cuccinelli II attempted, unsuccessfully, to revive the law under such circumstances last year. The changes passed by the legislature Thursday will include sodomy in code used to prosecute rape, prostitution, sex acts involving children and other uncontested crimes, while limiting “crimes against nature” to bestiality and incest.

The bill passed the House unanimously Thursday after passing the Senate unanimously last month.

An initial version of the bill did not make clear whether consensual acts between teenagers would still be included, an oversight that caused an uproar over whether the real goal of the legislation was to return to criminalizing homosexuality. That issue was resolved in committee.

More than a dozen other states still have sodomy bans on the books. A lawmaker in Louisiana is pushing to undo that state’s ban but faces opposition from social conservative groups.

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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