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What Is a Crime Against Nature?

The term “crimes against nature” have been in use by the US justice system since 1814. Such crimes refer to sexual acts or practices that are not considered natural. Each state varies upon its definition of crimes against nature, but the most usual types of sexual behavior that are categorized as such are bestiality, masturbation, homosexual acts, and unusual sexual positions.

Because of the difficulty in ruling a sexual act or behavior as against nature since it is a most private act between 2 consensual adults, the crime against nature laws were repealed in 2003 due to the Lawrence vs. Texas case. It was the decision of the US Supreme Court to repeal the act since sex between 2 consensual adults could not be considered criminal due to the protection given to it by the Constitution. Thus, homosexuality, masturbation, and other sexual behavior covered by the umbrella term “crime against nature” were no longer considered a violation or offense. However, the term “crime against nature” is still use in several statutes in several states except for Louisiana, Idaho, Michigan, Massachusetts, Virginia, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Mississippi.

The repealing of the term “crime against nature” was done so due to arguments that the law was applied unevenly. For example, a heterosexual couple who commit a sexual act in public are only found guilty of indecent exposure compared to a homosexual couple who are going to be charged with crime against nature. It has also been argued by biologists that what we consider to be against nature may in fact be natural.

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