By Jennifer Gable, Capital News Service
A bill decriminalizing oral sex is on its way to Gov. Wes Moore’s desk Friday, despite continued pushback from Republican lawmakers.
HB 0131, “Criminal Law- Unnatural or Perverted Sexual Practice- Repeal,” which would repeal criminalization of oral sex between consenting adults, passed the Senate chamber Friday, 34-12. It was crossfiled in the Senate as SB 0054.
Current law prohibits Marylanders from “placing the person’s sexual organ in the mouth of another or of an animal; or committing another unnatural or perverted sexual practice with another or with an animal.” Violation of this law is a misdemeanor and includes imprisonment of up to 10 years and or a fine not exceeding $10,000.
Democratic sponsors of the bill said repealing the current statute is necessary to protect the constitutional right to privacy between consenting adults.
At the hearing for SB 0054, some backers said this statute and other such sex laws are historically discriminatory for the LGBTQ+ community.
Maryland’s statute, Section 3-322, can be directly interpreted to criminalize all activity that is not vaginal intercourse, making it discriminatory, said Jer Welter, deputy chief appeals counsel in the Office of the Attorney General. “The continued existence of this statute on the books demeans the dignity of LGBT Marylanders, and it is also completely unnecessary,” said Welter.
“This statute remains a relic of an earlier time when institutionalized homophobia was written into the state’s criminal code,” said Jamie Grace Alexander of FreeState Justice, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group.
Several Republicans tried to stop the bill, and opposed it on the floor, out of concern that the statute is useful in convicting child sex predators.
“The issue is that the statute has been used repeatedly to convict child sex predators; there is a number of people that are actually still in jail on charges using that statute,” said Sen. Justin Ready, R-Carroll and Frederick. “I never understood why we would delete that out of the law.”
HB 0131 is now on its way to Moore’s desk for review. Moore could not be reached for comment on his plans for this legislation.