Man's Sodomy Conviction a 'Rogue Prosecution,' Group Says

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - A homosexual advocacy group plans to file an appeal Monday with the Virginia Court of Appeals to overturn the conviction of a man charged with solicitation of sodomy, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling "that clearly struck down all remaining sodomy laws in the nation."

The case involves Joel Singson, who was convicted of solicitation to commit sodomy, after what began as a discussion with an undercover police officer in the men's room of a store in a Virginia Beach mall. The officer said their discussion led him to believe Singson requested an act of sodomy.

"This sodomy law is dead, and that means you can't convict someone for attempting to violate it or talking about violating it; there's no law left to violate," said Greg Nevins, senior staff attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office and Lambda Legal's lead attorney on the case, in a statement.

But pro-family groups see the Supreme Court case as a privacy issue which does not affect Virginia's sodomy statutes.

"Lambda and other so-called gay rights organizations have said for years that they want to protect the privacy of acting homosexuals in the privacy of their bedrooms," said Joe Glover, president of the Family Policy Network, a conservative pro-family group that monitors challenges to sodomy statutes.

"The problem is, they can't discern the difference between a private bedroom and a public restroom," Glover said about the case.

"The Supreme Court has not said that anyone has a right to public solicitation of sex or sodomy or anything else in public restrooms. As a matter of fact, they were pretty clear on this being a privacy issue with regard to a domicile or a person's home," Glover said.

"The Virginia sodomy statute is on solid ground because it deals with a public health risk," Glover said. "There's a tremendous public health risk associated with acts of sodomy."

After the incident, Singson was questioned by two police officers in the back of the store and then released. He was charged several months later and spent eight days in jail. If he loses at the end of the appeal process, Singson faces a three-year jail sentence with two and a half years suspended.

Nevins called the case involving Singson "a rogue prosecution under a law that no longer exists."

In its appeal, Lamda Legal argues that the lower court should have dismissed the case due to the Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which the group contends struck down remaining sodomy laws nationwide. Lambda Legal was lead counsel in the Supreme Court case.

Lambda Legal describes itself as "a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered people, and people with HIV or AIDS through impact litigation, education and public policy work."

See Earlier Story:
Legal Group Uses Supreme Court Ruling to Defend Public Solicitation of Sex (Nov. 6, 2003)

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