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Georgia high court upholds ban on solicitation of sodomy

The Supreme Court of Georgia [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Monday that the state's statute prohibiting the solicitation of sodomy is constitutional. The case concerned a former police officer named James Edwin Watson who was convicted of soliciting sex from a 17-year-old boy [AJC report]. Watson argued that the statute violated his privacy and due process rights under the US and Georgia constitutions [texts]. The court reasoned that the sodomy statute did not violate Watson's due process or privacy rights because it was clear enough to put a reasonable person on notice of his or her rights and narrow enough to permit sexual acts between consenting adults. Although the court upheld the sodomy law, it ruled that there was insufficient evidence in Watson's case to find him guilty.

Sodomy laws have been a controversial issue around the world in recent years. In March a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] overturned [JURIST report] a Virginia anti-sodomy law, a decade after it was invalidated by a US Supreme Court [official website] decision in Lawrence v. Texas [opinion]. In 2010 a Malaysian court ruled [JURIST report] that the country's ban on sodomy is constitutional. In 2009 an Indian court declared [JURIST report] the nation's ban on sodomy unconstitutional. In 2006 a court in Hong Kong upheld a ruling [JURIST report] that laws prohibiting gay sex are unconstitutional.

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