La. Upholds Sodomy Law

Gays and Lesbians Targeted? Calogero cast the lone dissenting vote. Commercial oral sex is punishable by up to five years in prison, while prostitution — defined as offering intercourse for money or trade — is a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of six months.

Several accused prostitutes who challenged the disparity in sentences allegedly offered undercover police officers oral sex for money.

Calogero said the maximum five-year prison term is excessive.

A judge had thrown out the accused prostitutes’ indictments, which the justices reinstated.

Just as the constitution allows different penalties for drug dealers depending on the drugs they sell, Traylor wrote in his decision, different sex offenses can be punished accordingly.

The pending civil lawsuit, filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court in 1994, challenges the law both on privacy grounds and on the grounds that it unfairly targets gays for punishment and legitimizes hatred of homosexuals.

Orleans Parish Civil District Judge Carolyn Gill Jefferson threw out the law in March 1999 on privacy grounds.

The state has appealed to the state Supreme Court, arguing that gay men and lesbians choose their sexual orientation and that the law is needed to promote marriage and encourage procreation. The state also contends it has the authority to outlaw immoral conduct and impose penalties for engaging in it.

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