Sodomy

Sodomy is a term used today predominantly in law (derived from traditional Christian usage) to describe an act of 'unnatural' sexual intercourse normally interpreted in religion as referring to both oral sex and anal intercourse, as well as bestiality.

Definitions

The term comes from the Ecclesiastical Latin: pecatum Sodomiticum, or "sin of Sodom".

The association of the ancient city of Sodom with sexual depravity is of biblical origin. In the book of Genesis (chapters 18-20), the Lord perceives Sodom and Gomorrah as places of grave sinfulness and seeks to discover whether this perception is really true before He destroys the inhabitants. Two angels (who have the appearance of humans) are sent to find out the reality of life in Sodom. After arriving in the city in the evening, the angels are invited - then urged strongly - by Lot (an upright man) to take refuge with his family for the night.

4 But before they [the angels] lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: 5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, 7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. 8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. 9 And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. 10 But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. 11 And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.
(Genesis 19:4-11, KJV)

To summarise the above account:The men of the city of Sodom desired that Lot give them the two men [angels] that they may know them [sexually]. Lot challenges them that what they desire is wicked. He even offers his two virgin daughters instead - the offer is refused. It is only after the two angels draw Lot back into the house, and then caused blindness to come upon the men of the city that those within the house are safe. Even in their blinded state the men outside still try to gain entry to the house and continue until they become wearied. We see here the extent of their depravity.

Sodom is subsequently destroyed by a rain of sulfur and fire. From this biblical narrative the word 'Sodomy' is derived and has henceforth come to be synonymous with anal intercourse (particularly between two males) and sometimes also to describe human-animal sexual intercourse (also known as bestiality or zoophilia); this is the primary meaning of the cognate German language word Sodomie.

In current usage, the term is particularly used in law. Sodomy laws prohibiting such sexual activity have been a standard feature of codes of sexual morality in Jewish, Christian and Islamic civilisation as well as many other cultures. In the various criminal codes of United States of America, the term "sodomy" has generally been replaced by "Deviant sexual intercourse", which is precisely defined by statute. These laws have been under challenge and have in places been found unconstitutional or have been replaced with different acts. Some countries, particularly in Africa, the Middle East and southern Asia retain "sodomy laws" against homosexual acts. Elsewhere the legal use of the term "sodomy" is restricted to rape cases where an act such as anal penetration has taken place. The English term buggery is very closely related to sodomy in concept, and often interchangeably used in law and popular speech.In some legal systems the term buggery is used rather than sodomy e.g. that of Santa Lucia which, despite calls for reform, retains a penalty of 25 years for anal intercourse between consenting adults.

Biblical View

The sin of Sodom

''49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.
(Ezekiel 16:49-50, KJV)

The sin[s] of Sodom were clearly not limited to the act of sodomy/homosexual rape (... committed abomination before me ...), but included pride, idleness, not helping the poor and needy, etc.

First mention of the wickedness of Sodom

13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
(Genesis 13:13, KJV)
Just as the wickedness of Sodom was before the Lord, so too is the sin of all people. The clear inference is that all men will be held accountable for their sins, and will likewise suffer God's judgement and wrath.

'''God's response'''

20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. 22 And the men (the two angels) turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. 23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
(Genesis 18:20-23, KJV)
''24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? 25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? 26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. ... forty five, forty, thirty, twenty, ... 32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.''
(Genesis 18:24-32, KJV)

God promised Abraham that He would not destroy Sodom if there were at least ten righteous found within her population.

God sends the two angels to Sodom

1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground
(Genesis 19:1, KJV)

(See above for Genesis 19:4-11) '''God's promise to both judge the wicked, and to remove the righteous prior to sending His judgement'''

12 And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:
''13 For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.
''14 And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.
''15 And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.
''16 And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.
17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.
(Genesis 19:12-17, KJV)

Just as we saw earlier in Genesis 18:32 that God would not destroy Sodom if ten righteous were found within her population, we see here that He would in fact not send judgement until [righteous] Lot and his family were first evacuated.

New Testament Account:

''6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;
''7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
''8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
''9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgement to be punished:
10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
(2 Peter 2:6-10, KJV)

Summary:In the verses above in 2 Peter the scriptures clarify the events from Genesis previously considered: The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed 1) because they lived ungodly, and 2) as an example to those in the future that would live ungodly - that they too will suffer God's judgement and wrath. We see also that God delivers the godly/just from temptation [Lot being the example], and that He reserves the unjust/ungodly unto the day of judgement to be punished [the inhabitants of these two cities being the example]. Specifically the focus is those that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness in rebellion.

Fallen angels of Genesis 6 compared to Sodom and Gomorrah: men going after strange flesh

''6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great day.
7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
(Jude 6&7, KJV)

Summary:The angels which left their first estate [ref. Genesis 6, following] and then knew [sexually] the daughters of men are reserved unto the day of judgement. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah are compared to these same angels in that they too were guilty of fornication, and going after strange flesh. Just as God holds those angels guilty of going after strange flesh [namely Adam's female descendants], so too will He hold the men of these two cities to account for their fornications and homosexuality [going after strange flesh] as expressed in their desire for the two men [angels] in Lot's care.

Fallen angels of Genesis 6: angels going after strange flesh

''1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
''2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
''3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
''4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
''5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
''6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
''7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
(Genesis 6:1-8, KJV)

Summary:The sons of God [fallen angels] left their first estate [ref. Jude 6 & 7] that they might know [sexually] the daughters of men. God refers to this as their going after strange flesh. Angels [in heaven] are not sexual beings. These angels, by leaving their original state, were able to function sexually. As a result of their sexual union with Adam's female descendants they produced giants [Nephilim] as offspring. These offspring were extremely wicked and polluted the gene pool of Adam's descendants, ultimately resulting in the flood of Noah; God's judgement upon the wickedness of mankind. As in the case of Lot, we see that only Noah [and his family] found grace in God's eyes. That is, only Noah was just/godly and was preserved from God's judgement and wrath. Jude 6&7, previously considered, compares the men of Sodom and Gomorrah with these same [fallen] angels. Both groups were guilty of "going after strange flesh".

The sin of Sodom: the sin of all who are ungodly and unrighteous

''18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
''24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
''25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
''26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.
(Romans 1:18, 24-27, KJV)

Summary:As a result of mankind worshipping and serving the creature [themselves] more than the Creator/God, God has given them over to their base nature; their vile affections and desires. They changed their natural use into that which is against nature [unnatural]. Women burning in their lust one toward another, and men likewise burning in their lust one toward another.

''9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
(1 Corinthians 6:9, KJV)

Summary:Just as with Sodom, societies/individuals that reject the God of the Bible are given over to their evil lusts. By rejecting their Creator they worship and serve the creature [themselves]. One of the many resultant byproducts is the [increasing] sin of homosexuality/sodomy. The ultimate fall of any society/empire is always immediately preceded by the increase in homosexuality/sodomy. And as with Sodom, God's judgement quickly follows.

Views prior to the Medieval period

Jewish views

Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters,
neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw this. (16:49-50, KJV).

The thirteenth-century Jewish scholar Nachmanides wrote, "According to our sages, they were notorious for every evil, but their fate was sealed for their persistence in not supporting the poor and the needy." His contemporary Rabbenu Yonah expresses the same view: "Scripture attributes their annihilation to their failure to practice tzedakah [charity or justice]." The Book of Wisdom, which is included by Orthodox and Roman Catholics, but excluded by modern Jews, Protestants, and other Christian denominations, makes reference to the story of Sodom, further emphasizing that their sin had been failing to practice hospitality:

And punishments came upon the sinners not without former signs by the force of thunders: for they suffered justly according to their own wickedness, insomuch as they used a more hard and hateful behavior toward strangers.
For the Sodomites did not receive those, whom they knew not when they came: but these brought friends into bondage, that had well deserved of them. (19:13-14, KJV)

Prohibitions on same-sex activities (# 157-159) and bestiality (#155-156) 613_commandments#Maimonides.27_list are among the 613 commandments as listed by Maimonides in the 12th century; however, their source in Leviticus 18 does not contain the word sodomy. The idea that homosexual intercourse was involved as at least a part of the evil of Sodom arises from the story in Genesis 19

Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom - both young and old - surrounded the house. They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."
That is the NIV translation. The Hebrew verb used is to know, which can have a sexual meaning in the Bible, and probably does here, judging from Lot's shocked reaction:
''No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing...''

First century Christian and Jewish opinions

Modern English translation of Jude

The Epistle of Jude in the New Testament echoes the Genesis narrative and potentially adds the sexually immoral aspects of Sodom's sins: '...just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire (v. 7, English Standard Version). The phrase rendered sexual immorality and unnatural desire is literally translated strange flesh or false flesh, but it is not entirely clear what it refers to.

Josephus

The Jewish historian Josephus used the term "Sodomites" summarizing the Genesis narrative: "About this time the Sodomites grew proud, on account of their riches and great wealth; they became unjust towards men, and impious towards God, in so much that they did not call to mind the advantages they received from him: they hated strangers, and abused themselves with Sodomitical practices" (Antiquities 1.11.1 - circa A.D. 96). The final element of his assessment goes beyond the Biblical data, even in the New Testament.

Islamic views

The Qur'an makes a more explicit scriptural connection between homosexual aggression and Sodom. The city name 'Sodom' does not appear there, but the Sodomites are referred to as "the people of Lut (Lot)." Lot is the nephew of the Hebrew/Arabic patriarch Abraham and, in the Judaic Sodom stories, is head of the only family allowed by God to survive Sodom's destruction. In the Qur'an, he is also the divinely appointed national prophet to his people. Since their national name was unrecorded and "people of Lot" was the only available designation, the Islamic equivalent of 'sodomy' has become 'liwat,' which could be roughly translated as "lottishness" (see Homosexuality and Islam).

According to Islamic view, homosexuality is not a natural activity and it was initiated under the influence of Satan among the people who dwelled in Sodom and Gomorrah. In order that they should abandon this immorality, Allah had sent to them Lut as a Prophet. The Qur'an relates,

'We also (sent) Lut: he said to his people: "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds".' - Holy Quran 7:80-81

It is evident from this verse that the sin of the Sodomites was indeed homosexuality (specifically, amongst men) in the Islamic context.

In Islam sodomy (Anal sex) is forbidden whether done with a man or a woman.

Medieval Christianity on sodomy

Justinian I and Byzantine power politics of late antiquity

The primarily sexual meaning of the word sodomia for Christians did not evolve before the 500s AD. Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, in his novels no. 77 (dating 538) and no. 141 (dating 559) amended to his Corpus iuris civilis, was the first to declare that Sodom's sin had been specifically same-sex activities and desire for them, in order to create homosexual scapegoats for recent earthquakes and other disasters of his time (see Extreme weather events of 535-536), but most of all to enact anti-homosexual laws that he then used upon personal as well as political opponents in case he could not prove them guilty of anything else.

Justinian's were not the first Roman laws prohibiting homosexual behavior. Earlier such measures had been included in the Lex Scantinia dating from 149 BC and the Lex Julia dating from 17 BC, both constituting the death penalty for homosexual behavior. Allegations exist that even before Lex Scantinia such laws existed, but direct evidence of these laws has been lost. While sticking to the death penalty by beheading as punishment for homosexuality, Justinian's legal novels heralded a change in Roman legal paradigm in that he introduced a concept of not only mundane but also divine punishment for homosexual behavior. Individuals might ignore and escape mundane laws, but they could not do the same with divine laws, if Justinian declared his novels to be such.

Benedictus Levita and the ''Pseudo-Isidore

Justinian's interpretation of the story of Sodom would be forgotten today (as it had been along with his law novellizations regarding homosexual behavior immediately after his death) had it not been made use of in fake Charlemagnian capitularies, fabricated by a Frankish monk using the pseudonym Benedictus Levita ("Benedict the Levite") around 850 AD, as part of the Pseudo-Isidore. Benedict's three capitularies particularly dealing with Justinian's interpretation of the story of Sodom were:

It was in these fake capitularies where Benedictus utilized Justinian's interpretation as a justification for ecclesiastical supremacy over mundane institutions, thereby demanding burning at the stake for carnal sins in the name of Charlemagne himself. Burning had been part of the standard penalty for homosexual behavior particularly common in Germanic protohistory (as according to Germanic folklore, sexual deviance and especially same-sex desire were caused by a form of malevolence or spiritual evil called nith, rendering those people characterized by it as non-human fiends, as nithings), and Benedictus most probably was of the Germanic tribe of the Franks.

Benedict broadened the meaning for sodomy to all sexual acts not related to procreation that were therefore deemed counter nature (so for instance, even solitary masturbation and anal intercourse between a male and a female were covered), while among these he still emphasized all interpersonal acts not taking place between human men and women, especially homosexuality.

Benedict's rationale was that the punishment of such acts was in order to protect all Christianity from divine punishments such as natural disasters for carnal sins committed by individuals, but also for heresy, superstition and heathenry. According to Benedictus, this was why all mundane institutions had to be subjected to ecclesiastical power in order to prevent moral as well as religious laxity causing divine wrath.

Medieval Inquisition, hereticism, and witchcraft

For delaying reasons described in the article Pseudo-Isidore but also because his crucial demands for capital punishment had been so unheard of in ecclesiastical history priorly based upon the humane Christian concept of forgiveness and mercy, it took several centuries before Benedict's demands for legal reform began to take tangible shape within larger ecclesiastical initiatives.

This came about with the Medieval Inquisition in 1184. It was then that a convenient target was found in the sects of Cathars and Waldensians, and these heretics were not only persecuted for alleged satanism but hence increasingly accused of fornication and sodomy. When these two sects had been stamped out and new victims were needed, the Inquisition turned to the witch hunts that were also largely connoted with sodomy.

Persecution of Cathars and the Bogomiles sect in Bulgaria led to the use of a term closely related to sodomy: buggery derives from French bougge­rie, meaning "of Bulgaria".

The association of sodomy with hereticism, satanism, and witchcraft was supported by the Inquisition trials. The resulting infamy of sodomy motivated a continuing discrimination and persecution of homosexuals and sexual deviants in general long after the Medieval period had ended.

The arguably gay Richard I of England was ordered by a priest to keep in mind "the sin of Sodom".

Sodomy in Europe since the Age of Reason

From the Age of Reason onwards, Justinian's claim that sexual sins, if not persecuted yielded epidemics, natural disasters, and downfall of the state found a fruitful reception in pseudo-scientific ideologies of alleged pathology (such as in the popular concept of moral insanity) and mental as well as social and political consequences of sexual deviance.

Examination of trials for rape and sodomy during the eighteenth century at the Old Bailey in London show the treatment of rape to have been lenient, while the treatment of sodomy to have been generally severe. From the 1780s the number of cases grew. Blackmail for sodomy also increased and was made a capital crime.

In France in the eighteenth century, sodomy was still theoretically a capital crime, and there are a handful of cases where sodomites were executed. However, in several of these, other crimes were involved as well (for instance, one man, Pascal, had supposedly murdered a man who resisted his advances). Records from the Bastille and the police lieutenant d'Argenson, as well as other sources, show that many who were arrested were exiled, sent to a regiment, or imprisoned in places (generally the Hospital) associated with moral crimes such as prostitution. Of these, a number were involved in prostitution or had approached children, or otherwise gone beyond merely having homosexual relations. Ravaisson (a 19th century writer who edited the Bastille records) suggested that the authorities preferred to handle these cases discreetly, lest public punishments in effect publicize "this vice".

Periodicals of the time sometimes casually named known sodomites, and at one point even suggested that sodomy was increasingly popular. This does not imply that homosexuals necessarily lived in security - specific police agents, for instance, watched the Tuileries, even then a known cruising area. But, as with much sexual behaviour under the Old Regime, discretion was a key concern on all sides (especially since members of prominent families were sometimes implicated) - the law seemed most concerned with those who were the least discreet.

Between 1730 and 1733, the Netherlands experienced a sodomy hysteria, in which 276 men were executed.

Modern Christian views

Though the etymology of the word sodomy is clear, there is a dispute about what the nature of the sin of Sodom actually was. Within Christendom there are basically two schools of thought.

  1. The traditional interpretation, where the primary sin of Sodom is seen as homoerotic sexual acts.
  2. Some recent scholars, starting with Derrick Sherwin Bailey, claim that the sins of Sodom were related more to violation of hospitality laws than sexual sins.

The traditional interpretation claims there is a connection between Sodom and Leviticus 18, which lists various sexual crimes, which, according to verses 27 and 28, would result in the land being "defiled":

for the inhabitants of the land, who were before you, committed all of these abominations, and the land became defiled;
otherwise the land will vomit you out for defiling it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you.

The more recent re-interpretation claims that the explanation primarily is with the quote from Ezekiel.

Some scholars, such as Per-Axel Sverker, align this passage with the traditional interpretation, claiming that the word abomination refers to sexual misconduct, and that while homoerotic acts were not the only reason Sodom and Gomorrah were condemned, it was a significant part of the picture. Others, such as the aforementioned D.S. Bailey, claim that this passage contradicts the traditional interpretation altogether.

There is an ongoing exegetic and hermeneutic debate on this issue, including many other nuances in the text, and the scholarly world is far from consensus.

Sodomy laws in the United States

From the earliest times in the United States, sodomy (variously defined) was prohibited, although some historians suggest that early sodomy laws were mainly used to address issues of non-consensual behavior, or public behavior. The earliest known United States law journal article dealing with sodomy was in 1905 in West Virginia. Attorney E.D. Leach argued that "perverted sexual natures" were related to crime. "Sodomy, rape, lust-murder, bodily injury, theft, robbery, torture of animals, injury to property and many other crimes may be committed under these conditions." 18th and 19th century judges often editorialized about the act of sodomy as they handed down their rulings. "That most detestable sin", the "horrid act", "the horrible crime", "that which is unfit to be named among Christians" characterized some of the language used by British and American jurists when punishing sodomites. Emphasis is usually on the notion that the act of anal penetration is so offensive "to God almighty" that the term Sodomy (literally, that which occurred in Sodom) is the only appropriate way of designating the activity. In other words, it was understood that when reference was made to "an unspeakable act" having occurred, it was clear that the act in question was none other than anal penetration. Some say, however, that the "Sin of Sodom" accurately referred not to anal penetration but rather to the agglomeration of ALL the unholy activities said to have occurred in Sodom and that it is thus inaccurate to imply a one-to-one relationship.

In the 1950s, all states had some form of law criminalizing sodomy, and in 1986 the United States Supreme Court ruled that nothing in the United States Constitution bars a state from prohibiting sodomy. However, state legislators and state courts had started to repeal or overturn their sodomy laws, beginning with Illinois in 1961, and thus in 2003, only 10 states had laws prohibiting all sodomy, with penalties ranging from 1 to 15 years imprisonment. Additionally, four other states had laws that specifically prohibited same-sex sodomy. That year the United States Supreme Court reversed its 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick ruling and in Lawrence v. Texas, invalidated these laws as being an unconstitutional violation of privacy, with Sandra Day O'Connor's concurring opinion arguing that they violated equal protection. See Sodomy law.

In the U.S. military, the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled that the Lawrence v. Texas decision applies to Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the statute banning sodomy. In both United States v. Stirewalt and United States v. Marcum, the court ruled that the "conduct falls within the liberty interest identified by the Supreme Court."U.S. v. Stirewalt However, the court went on to say that despite Lawrence's application to the military, Article 125 can still be upheld in cases where there are "factors unique to the military environment" which would place the conduct "outside any protected liberty interest recognized in Lawrence."U.S. v. Marcum Examples of such factors could be fraternization, public sexual behavior, or any other factors that would adversely affect good order and discipline.

United States v. Meno and United States v. Bullock are two known cases in which consensual sodomy convictions have been overturned in military courts under the Lawrence precedent.

Evolution of the term in other languages

In modern French, the word "sodomie" (and in modern Spanish, the word "sodomía") is used exclusively for penetrative anal sex (where the penetration is performed with a penis or a substitute of similar shape such as a dildo, possibly a strap-on dildo, thus any gender can be on the giving or receiving end). The matching French verb is "sodomiser" (Spanish "sodomizar"). In modern German, the word "Sodomie" has no connotation of anal or oral sex, and refers specifically to zoophilia. (See Paragraph 175 StGB, version of June 28, 1935.) The same goes for the Norwegian word "sodomi" and the Polish "sodomia". "Sodomy", therefore, can be considered a 'false friend,' a word that English speakers will think they know the meaning of, but which actually holds a different, though in this case related, meaning. Responsible for this was the broadening of the term sodomia by Benedictus Levita (see above).

Popular use

See also

See also

External links

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