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Abominable Buggary – Mythical Creature or Antiquated Law

Abominable Buggary – Mythical Creature or Antiquated Law

S.C. Stat. Ann. § 16-15-120 is STILL on the books.  It reads: “Whoever shall commit the abominable crime of buggery, whether with mankind or with beast, shall, on conviction, be guilty of felony …”

What the heck is Buggery?! Well, normally it is defined as some kind of unnatural sex act.  Oral, anal, bestiality, even masturbation!  If you’ve ever had oral sex, you are a felon; if you’ve masturbated in SC you’re probably a felon.  A Florida court discussed it in humorous and exquisite detail as follows:

    “Does the one specific crime definitely defined and limited by Section 7567, C.G.L. -1927; 3534 G.S. (1906), comprehend or include the action of a 76 year old, aged Indian War Veteran, feeble physically and mentally, in, after having met two [young] girls who solicited him, went to his residence and there [. . .] allowed them to diddle with his rag-like penis, unerectable, lifeless and useless except to connect the bladder with the outside world [...], utterly incapable of either penetration or emission, and wad it like a rag into their mouths,  [significantly edited for facebook]”

Okay. Maybe a little TOO descriptively discussed (you should read the REST of the opinion).  Bear in mind, there are other laws prohibiting sex acts with minors (as well there should be) BUT the laws discussed above would prohibit similar actions between consenting adults.

So.  No more oral sex with your spouse; no more masturbating. Right? Well, maybe.  In SC until 1873 this crime was punishable by DEATH.  It is still a felony in SC.  However, in 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Lawrence v Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) that laws against sodomy violate fundamental privacy rights. The Court wrote, “The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.”

BUT.  Do not celebrate by grabbing the nearest sheep!  The court limited the privacy right to consenting adults (human adults).  ALSO, be careful because Adultery and Fornication ARE still illegal too, but given that the gay couple in the Lawrence case were not married, SC residents MAY be protected from prosecution if they engage in fornication.

The Supreme Court DID expand privacy rights to allow for consensual sodomy, BUT legal precedent is always limited to similar facts.  Accordingly, sex acts under different circumstances and outside a marital relationship MAY still be punished.  At least the death penalty is no longer the punishment!