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N.C. sodomy law dates to Henry VIII

Henry VIIINorth Carolina's sodomy law dates to the reign of Henry VIII.

Under the English king's rule, the Buggery Act of 1533 was adopted — the first civil legislation applicable against homosexuals in that country. (Previously, those offenses had been handled by religious courts, but Henry famously had his differences with the church.)

The law defined buggery as an unnatural sex act against the will of God, later modifying it to include only anal sex and bestiality.

Though later repealed, it was re-enacted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1563 and became a part of North Carolina law in 1715 when all previous parliamentary statutes and court cases — known as common law — were declared to be part of our law.

The state statute against sodomy — or "the crime against nature" — still includes citations to the 25th Statute Roll of King Henry VIII, Chapter 6, and the Fifth Statute Roll of Queen Elizabeth, Chapter 17.

The U.S. Supreme Court declared anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional in 2003, but it remains on the books despite several attempts by state legislators to remove it.

Hat Tip: Gerry Cohen 


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