Laws Banning Homosexuality and Sodomy

While it has never technically been illegal to be an LGBTQ person in the United States, government actors enacted and enforced many laws that were used to functionally criminalize homosexuality, starting in the late 19th century. Governmental oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT) people accelerated through the 1950s, but began to lose steam thereafter. Eventually, most laws and policies designed to functionally criminalize LGBT people were dismantled, although problem areas remain. This entry describes these laws and their evolution in the United States.

Although laws prohibiting sodomy (most commonly defined as anal sex) have existed since colonial days, sodomy was not considered to be a serious social problem prior to the late 19th century; prosecutions were extremely rare. However, in the late 19th century, ...

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