The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Homosexuality Voted to Be Struck From Pennsylvania's Criminal Code

Rep. Todd Stephens

Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives unanimously voted Wednesday to strike the word “homosexuality” from the state’s criminal code, where it had been listed in the definition of prohibited sex acts.

Supporters say said the word doesn’t belong since being gay isn’t a crime, according to the Associated Press.

“This bill provides a long-overdue update to our crimes code to ensure nobody is prosecuted because of who they love,” said state Rep. Todd Stephens, a Republican who also introduced the bill. “Eliminating this archaic language will also help promote a culture of acceptance and inclusion for our LGBTQ community across Pennsylvania.”

Stephens had first introduced the bill last year, according to Patch.

Pennsylvania’s law against sex work defines sexual activity so that it references “homosexual and other deviate sexual relations.”

The new definition that has been sent to the state’s Senate now reads “includes sexual intercourse and deviate sexual intercourse ... and any touching on the sexual or other intimate parts of an individual for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire of either person,” according to the AP.

“Homosexuality” was also struck from the definition of sexual conduct, the news wire reports, in a section covering “obscene and other sexual materials and performances.”

“In this General Assembly, sadly, it’s a huge lift to merely agree that being gay shouldn’t be illegal,” Democratic Rep. Dan Frankel said.

Frankel urged lawmakers to go further and pass antidiscrimination legislation protecting LGBTQ+ people.

Another Democratic representative, Malcolm Kenyatta, agreed.  

“I hope that we have these same votes for enshrining nondiscrimination protections, which we sorely need to do,” he said.

The bill now goes to the state Senate.

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