Louisiana to remove "crimes against nature" offenders from sex offender registry

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Following a federal class action lawsuit filed last year by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and others, a settlement was reached with the state of Louisiana to remove hundreds of people from sex offender registries because of "crimes against nature" by solicitation (CANS) convictions.

Among the defendants in Doe v. Caldwell: Louisiana attorney general Buddy Caldwell, Department of Public Safety and Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc, and Louisiana State Police Superintendent Michael Edmonson.

People convicted under Louisiana's centuries-old law against solicitation of "crimes against nature" no longer have to register as sex offenders, thanks to a law passed in 2011 that equalizes the penalties for prostitution and solicitation of "crimes against nature" (oral and anal sex) — but the law was not retroactive.

Yesterday's settlement follows a ruling last year that ruled the CANS registration requirement unconstitutional based on the Equal Protection clause of the 14th amendment. Hundreds of people who were previously convicted of solicitation of crimes against nature remained on a long list of sex offenders, while people who have been convicted of prostitution never had to register. The law seemingly singled out LGBT offenders.

In a statement, CCR attorney Alexis Agathocleous said, “We are gratified that the state has agreed to vindicate the rights of hundreds of people who continued to be unconstitutionally registered as sex offenders. ... This registration requirement has disproportionately affected African American women and LGBT individuals who will now — finally — be able to begin to rebuild their lives.”

Deon Haywood, executive director of health advocacy group Women with a Vision, has made the CANS issue one of the organization's hallmark efforts. “I am overjoyed," she said in a statement. "This is truly an historic moment. Justice has prevailed and dignity has been restored to the women and men who have been denied their basic human rights for so long."

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