Police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana are arresting gay men for
agreeing to consensual sex.
Stings being carried out by a Sheriff's Office task force mainly
in Manchac Park, which is known as a cruising area for gay men, have
resulted in at least a dozen such arrests since 2011.
Men who agree to have sex with undercover officers are arrested
for violating the state's crimes against nature laws, the Baton
Rouge Advocate reported.
A July 18 arrest involved a 65-year-old man who was handcuffed
after he agreed to follow a deputy to a nearby apartment to have sex.
“There had been no sex-for-money deal between the two. The men
did not agree to have sex in the park, a public place. And the count
against the man was based on a part of Louisiana's anti-sodomy law
struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court a decade ago,” the paper
That is, the man was arrested for merely agreeing – not
participating – to consensual sex with another man.
The Sheriff's Office defended the sting operations.
“This is a law that is currently on the Louisiana books, and the
sheriff is charged with enforcing the laws passed by our Louisiana
Legislature,” Spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said. “Whether the
law is valid is something for the courts to determine, but the
sheriff will enforce the laws that are enacted.”
“The issue here is not the nature of the relationship but the
location,” she added. “These are not bars. These are parks.
These are family environments.”
“The whole procedure of being arrested and being brought to jail
is just intimidation,” a man who was arrested two years ago said.
Metro Councilman John Delgado chided Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, saying
that he owed an apology to the men arrested.
“You cannot simply hide behind not knowing that the law had been
changed by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2003,” Degaldo
reportedly wrote in an email to the sheriff's office. “The
sheriff's actions are a violation of the civil rights of these men
under the 5th and 14th Amendments. Ignorance
of the law is no excuse … Doesn't your office tell people that all