BATON ROUGE, La.—As AVN readers know, in the famous case of Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that the laws that criminalized what many states described as "crimes against nature"—blowjobs and anal sex—were violations of citizens' rights to sexual privacy. Sadly, it took Louisiana eight more years to get the full import of the message.
According to press reports, Louisiana has had a "crimes against nature" law since 1805, seven years before it first became a state, but did away with the prohibition against human-to-human sodomy in 2005. However, before June 30, Louisiana law enforcement—police and prosecutors—had the power to decide whether a prostitute operating in that state would be charged with simple solicitation, a misdemeanor, or for "solicitation of a crime against nature," a felony. The new law, sponsored by Rep. Charmaine Marchand Stiaes and signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal on Thursday, reduces the "solicitation of a crime against nature" to a misdemeanor, and included one important added benefit.
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of felony prostitution charges were lodged against gay and transsexual hookers, usually of the poor and/or non-white variety, while the white hetero ones usually just got the misdemeanor. But one important difference regarding which crime was charged was that along with a felony prostitution conviction came the requirement that the felon register as a "sex offender."
With "sex offender" status, of course, comes a battery of rules and regulations, including being forced to register with local police for the 15 years the person retains the "offender" status; informing the authorities of any change of address—one homeless sex offender was imprisoned for life for failure to comply because he had no fixed address—as well as having one's offender status posted on internet websites and stamped on driver's licenses; being prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare center, church or any other place where children congregate; as well as increased prison sentences for future sex offenses—among them selling an obscene movie!
But while a prostitution bust will no longer bring with it a "sex offender" label, those who've already been convicted under to felony version may have no remedy.
"We welcome this change in the law, which finally brings Louisiana in line with every other state in the country," said Davida Finger, an assistant clinical professor at Loyola University. "But the injustice still persists. Almost 40 percent of registered sex offenders in New Orleans are on the registry because of a Solicitation of a Crime Against Nature (SCAN) conviction. They too should receive the benefit of this change in the law and be removed from the sex offender registry."