legal nightmare

It’s 2022 and these gay men are still on the sex offender registry for consensual sex

A lawsuit filed last month revealed that at least 19 people are still required to register as sex offenders due to past convictions under South Carolina’s “buggery” law for having consensual gay sex.

The SC law, along with other states’ anti-sodomy laws, were made invalid in 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas’ anti-sodomy law was unconstitutional. While pardons were granted for those targeted by the laws, the convictions still require them to remain on the sex offenders list in South Carolina and two other states — Mississippi and Idaho.

The lawsuit was filed by one of the men, who was convicted, along with his partner, in 2001 under the “buggery” law. His pardon came in 2006, but his life continues to be plagued by his status as a registered sex offender.

Twice a year, he’s required to report to the sheriff’s office and give detailed information about his life — his address, employment status, vehicle information, fingerprints, palm prints, and every online account he uses. At one point, he was denied a professional license because of his sex offender status.

Attorney Matthew Strugar of Los Angeles and attorney Allen Chaney from the ACLU of South Carolina filed the lawsuit on the man’s behalf Dec. 22 in the U.S. District Court of South Carolina, making it a federal complaint.

“The registration obligations, sort of, take over your life,” Strugar told the Post and Courier.

Even if the man was to move, reciprocity laws would require him to register as a sex offender in nearly every other state.

The lawsuit seeks to remove the man’s name from the sex offender registry, and also to stop the state from requiring anyone else convicted of sodomy offenses from having to register as sex offenders.