Even though anti-sodomy laws were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2003, it seems that the City of Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, has continued to attempt to enforce a statute that was deemed unconstitutional. But they aren’t going after heterosexual acts routinely performed in parking garages or a hotel after an all-nighter down in the French Quarter. They’re not posing as a cute blonde LSU co-ed hitting on straight men jogging through the park and offering a good time behind the jungle gym. No, the Sheriff’s Office is specifically targeting gay men. Not for public indecencies in a city park bathroom in exchange for money but simply for accepting the propositions from an undercover East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s deputy for consensual gay sex – within a private residence, away from the park. This isn’t an isolated case of one deputy trying to enforce a law that was overturned a decade ago, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office has applied this overturned law to justify the arrests and attempted prosecution of at least a dozen men since 2011.
According to The Advocate, Baton Rouge’s newspaper, some members of the capital city’s population aren’t too happy with this revelation:
Advocates for civil rights and the LGBT community expressed outrage last week, saying the task force unfairly targeted gay men who were humiliated by their arrests. “It is frustrating that the police are using their resources to pursue issues like this and arrest people for attempting to pick someone up and go home with them,” said Bruce Parker, of Equality Louisiana. “It’s perfectly legal, and we would have to close down every bar in Baton Rouge if that weren’t the case.”
Prostitution and the exchange of money for sexual acts of any kind is illegal in Louisiana and in almost every county or parish across the entire United States (with the exception of a few), but again, that is not the case here. There was never any money involved, there was nothing but conversation between two fully-clothed adult men in public and there was never any sexual contact of any kind involved – just talks of having condoms and promises of “some drinks and some fun.” This is a case of discrimination, entrapment and targeting of gay men and it should be the subject of a Justice Department probe, or at least a Federal lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office.
It’s really sad that in an area with the motto of “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” which means “let the good times roll!” and a rather libertarian hands-off attitude towards many other issues, that this would be the one thing that the city’s police force decided to go after. Of course, this just goes to show one thing – despite all of the progress we Southerners have made toward dragging Louisiana and other states out of Dark Ages kicking and screaming, we still have a long way to go.
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