Since 2011 the Baton Rouge, LA Sheriffs Department has arreseted dozens of gay men under Louisiana’s sodomy and crime against nature statute — R.S. 14:89, the 1805 law that includes language banning “the unnatural carnal copulation by a human being with another of the same sex or opposite sex.” and was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, a ruling that prompted Louisianna’s then-state Attorney General Richard Ieyoub to issue a statement saying the state’s anti-sodomy law would be unenforceable except for provisions banning sodomy for compensation. (i.e. prostitution)
In the latest arrest, July 18th. an undercover East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy was staking out Manchac Park about 10 a.m. The deputy struck up a conversation with a 65-year-old man and, after denying being a cop, deputy propositioned his target with “some drinks and some fun” back at his place. After following the deputy to a nearby apartment, the man was handcuffed and booked on a single count of attempted crime against nature.
There had been no sex-for-money deal between the two. The men did not agree to have sex in the park, a public place. But the man was still arrested and the charge brought against him was based on a part of Louisiana’s anti-sodomy and crimes against nature law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court a decade ago.
So how could this happen?
According to Casey Rayborn Hicks, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman “This is a law that is currently on the Louisiana books, and the sheriff is charged with enforcing the laws passed by our Louisiana Legislature,” Hicks said. “Whether the law is valid is something for the courts to determine, but the sheriff will enforce the laws that are enacted.”
And why is the struck down law still on the books?
Because the Louisiana State legislature has never gotten around to amending and removing “consensual sex” either out of ineptness or on purpose.
“It’s really unfortunate that police are continuing to single out, target, falsely arrest and essentially ruin the lives of gay men in Baton Rouge who are engaged in no illegal conduct,” said Andrea J. Ritchie, a civil rights attorney.
Peter Renn, an attorney with Lambda Legal, the prominent gay rights organization, said the pattern of “unlawful arrests over multiple years” suggests authorities are using the stings as a means to harass gay men. The fact that this has been going on for a two-year period is unbelievable.”
And while the city of Baton Rouge wastes time and resources harassing gay men. Current statistics show that Baton Rouge’s crime rate is almost double that of New Orleans.
Perhaps we should start calling Baton Rouge, Little Russia.