ACLU Challenges Nevada's Homophobic 'Infamous Crimes Against Humanity' Law

Hard to believe that statutes like this still exist in 2013.

Photo Credit: Tony Peters / Creative Commons

The ACLU of Nevada filed a class action lawsuit against the State of Nevada over something called the “infamous crimes against nature” (sic) statute.

This is how things work in Nevada: The age of consent in the state is 16. If a 17-year-old engages in sexual activity with someone of a different gender under the age of consent, he or she did nothing wrong in the eyes of the law. But if a 17-year-old engages in sexual activity with someone of the same gender under the age of consent, he or she committed an “infamous crime against nature” and faces life in prison.

“The ‘crime against nature’ statute creates a double standard that treats identical conduct differently based solely on whether the sexual activity involves same-sex or different-sex couples,” the ACLU said in a statement.

Elko County District Attorney Mark Torvinen prosecuted an area teenager under this law, threatening to lock him up for having consensual sex with another boy. The charges have since been dropped, but John Doe continues to feel persecuted by his state government.

The statute prohibiting consensual sex between same-sex teens entered the books in 1979. 34 years later, gay teens still face the threat of prison for being themselves. Nevada struck a similar statute for adults in 1993.

“More than anything, this highlights the necessity of removing this discriminatory, homophobic relic from our statute books,” Staci Pratt, Legal Director for the ACLU of Nevada.


Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.

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