We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Crime Against Nature?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
MyLawQuestions is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At MyLawQuestions, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The term “crime against nature” began to be used in statutes in the United States in the 1800s to refer to sexual practices which were deemed “against nature.” The practice of prosecuting certain sexual practices pre-dates the use of the term “crime against nature” and occurred in many nations around the world prior to the 1800s, persisting in some areas today. In the United States, where the phrase was used in criminal law, the concept of a crime against nature was ruled unconstitutional in a 2003 case, although laws using this phrase are still on the books in several states.

A number of different practices were included under the umbrella of this term. Bestiality was deemed a crime against nature, as were oral sex and homosexual activity. In some areas, masturbation was also considered to be a crime against nature. Many of these laws were structured and applied in a way which targeted homosexual couples, especially gay men.

Arguments in defense of retaining such laws pointed out that they could furnish additional charges for certain types of criminal cases. For example, someone being charged with molestation of a child could also be charged with committing a crime against nature. Likewise, people being charged with rape could be charged under crimes against nature statutes as well as statutes pertaining to rape. These laws were also applied in solicitation cases to increase the severity of solicitation charges.

However, some advocates pointed out that these laws were often applied unevenly. For example, if a heterosexual couple were found engaging in sexual activity in public, they would likely be charged with indecent exposure, while a homosexual couple might be charged with crimes against nature in addition to indecent exposure. There were also concerns that such laws could be used to police activities between consenting adults which occur in private, something which many Americans felt uneasy about.

The concept of an act which goes “against nature” has also been challenged by biologists. Study of numerous animal species has shown that all of the activities discussed in the second paragraph do in fact occur in nature, and are quite widespread among some species.

As a consequence of the challenge to the constitutionality of such laws, states with crimes against nature laws on their books do not enforce them. Other areas of the penal code may cover specific issues for which these laws were once used, to ensure that people who commit crimes such as rape and child molestation can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a MyLawQuestions researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By Reminiscence — On Jan 28, 2014

Yes, those "crime against nature" laws were flawed and archaic, but at least they put some really bad sex offenders behind bars. I don't know if those laws got enforced as long as no one saw it happen in public. A lot of those men were busted because they hired prostitutes to perform the act and weren't very discreet about where they did it. I feel sorry for them, but it's not like they didn't know it was illegal.

By pollick — On Jan 27, 2014

Personally, I think all of these "crime against nature" laws hurt the homosexual community as bad as the Jim Crow laws hurt the African-American community. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have arrested people who were obviously committing heinous sexual acts, like child molestation or rape. I'm just saying that an entire generation of people were brought up to believe some common sexual acts were somehow perverted and wrong.

I remember hearing stories about men being locked up in prison for years because they received oral sex from a female. The law changed while they were still serving their sentences, but they weren't released after the fact. What they did was considered sodomy, and sodomy was clearly illegal back in the day.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.