Crimes against nature are any type of sexual acts that are deemed abnormal or perverted by law. This specific legal term is most often used in the United States, although other regions have their own variations on the crime. Depending on the specific state, the law can make any sexual act that is not heterosexual intercourse illegal; however, it tends not to be as commonly enforced in modern times.
Although the definition of crimes against nature is not the same in all states, one sexual act that nearly always falls under this category is bestiality. Bestiality is any type of sexual contact that occurs between a human being and an animal. Besides being considered unnatural, bestiality also commonly falls under laws against animal cruelty. Since the acts tend to happen in private, they are not usually able to be prosecuted unless the offender records or photographs the evidence. One of the main reasons this crime is considered dangerous is because it can often escalate into rape or other violent crimes against other human beings.
Crimes against nature also historically referred to any sexual act that occurred between members of the same sex. One of the primary reasons behind this was because the practice of homosexuality itself was considered perverted by many religious lawmakers. Any form of sexual activity that is not strictly penile and vaginal can technically be considered as crimes against nature depending on the state or country; however, it is usually not enforced if it occurs in the privacy of a couple’s home. Manual or oral stimulation of the genitals falls under the legal category, as does anal intercourse. In less common cases, masturbation can also be considered an unnatural sexual act.
Although most sexual acts that are not strictly heterosexual intercourse can be technically charged under these laws, in more modern times they are not usually enforced. Some states may have updated their laws to make their definitions less stringent, while others may simply not bother with enforcement even if the laws are still in effect. When these laws are enforced, it tends to be as a means to get a conviction for someone who is charged with more serious crimes that may lack evidence or if the acts occurred with a minor.