Pennsylvania: Homosexuality Voted to Be Struck from Criminal Code

Pennsylvania: Rep Todd Stephens helped to remove Homosexuality from Criminal Code

The word doesn’t belong since being gay isn’t a crime.

The Pennsylvania House voted 198-0 on Wednesday to erase the word homosexuality from the definition of prohibited sexual acts in the state Crimes Code.

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

The original Pennsylvania bill, introduced by Stephens, requested to remove “homosexuality” from the definitions of “sexual activity” and “sexual conduct” 

The word homosexuality appears several times in the state crimes code, under “prostitution” state law and in the section on “obscene and other sexual materials and performances.” Rep. Dan Frankel (D) who has long fought to expand nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ people, said the current language is “cruel and absurd.”

The language defining sexual activity will change from “includes homosexual and other deviate sexual relations” to “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.”

Stephens took to Facebook to celebrate the decision. “This is a relic from a bygone era when the LGBTQ community faced criminal charges for their love,” wrote the senator. “Yet, while our marriage laws have been reformed, the term ‘homosexuality’ still stood as a criminal activity. Love should never be illegal.”

Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D), the first openly gay man of color in the state’s house history, said under existing law state residents are vulnerable to losing their jobs or homes “simply because of who they are and who they love.”

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