The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada has joined the National ACLU’s LGBT and AIDS Project to file a civil-rights lawsuit that could overturn a state law that criminalizes consensual encounters between same-sex teenagers, but not opposite-sex couples.
Nevada’s age of consent in 16, but the law dictates that sex between two minors under 18 is an “infamous crime against nature” if the two parties are of the same sex.
As used in this section, the “infamous crime against nature” means anal intercourse, cunnilingus or fellatio between natural persons of the same sex. Any sexual penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the infamous crime against nature.
It carries a possible five-year prison sentence.
The ACLU, which filed the suit on behalf of a “John Doe” client, maintains the law violates the Right to Equal Protection guaranteed in the 14th Amendment.
“Elko County prosecutors used the law to prosecute a minor for a consensual sexual relationship with another teenager even though both of them were above the age of consent,” said Staci Pratt, Legal Director for the ACLU of Nevada. “If the couple had been a boy and a girl rather than two boys, their conduct would not have been a crime.”
The teen was arrested last year on juvenile felony charges and later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Pratt says the case underscored “the necessity of removing this discriminatory, homophobic relic from our statute books.”
The statute, enacted in 1979, remains on the books even though Nevada repealed laws against “crimes against nature” between consenting adults back in 1993 and the Supreme Court rule sodomy laws unconstitutional in 2003.