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State of Idaho settles ACLU lawsuit over anti-sodomy law, use of sex offender registry

Posted at 4:21 PM, Nov 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-11 12:20:03-05

BOISE, Idaho — The state of Idaho settled an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit Thursday, challenging the state's "Crime Against Nature" law, according to a news release from the ACLU.

"The state’s enforcement of the law has historically been used to condemn and punish LGBT+ people," reads the release.

Idaho News 6 reached out to the Idaho Attorney General's office, which declined to comment.

The law required three men to register as sex offenders in Idaho for engaging in consensual oral and anal sex. Last year a federal judge ruled the registration was unconstitutional and required the state to remove two of the three men from the registry.

After the ruling, the state of Idaho appealed. In oral argument, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals then strongly suggested the state settle the case.

The state was required to remove three men from the registry Thursday, with the settlement of Doe v. Wasden. Moving forward, the state will also be required to create a policy for removing other individuals who may have similar claims.

A legal director representing the plaintiffs says the men have demonstrated irreparable harm by the registration.

“Where our clients live, work and travel have been restricted; they have lost jobs and family connections. The state settled this case because they knew we would ultimately prevail after our win in federal court last year; there was no reason to drag on a losing battle that would cost taxpayers even more money defending unconstitutional laws,” said Aadika Singh, ACLU of Idaho legal director, representing plaintiffs.

The ACLU reports that the "Crime Against Nature" law was the primary law used in the "The Boys of Boise" affair, which is described as one of the most virulent anti-gay witch hunts in American history."

A 2003 U.S. supreme court decision in Lawrence v. Texas found that anti-sodomy laws, including the "Crime Against Nature" law violates constitutional protections under the Fourteenth Amendment. Despite this, the law continued to be enforced in Idaho.

“We are glad to have another victory for LGBTQ+ equality in Idaho, following on the heels of our settlement with the City of Boise, which fired our client Jax Perez for sharing their LGBTQ+ identity at work. These cases should not have to be litigated but, unfortunately, given the anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment of the Idaho legislature and some communities—even the most progressive ones—we are bracing for even more attacks on minority communities in Idaho. But we’ll be here, as we always have been, fighting for people,” said Singh.