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Utah House passes criminal code cleanup bill that would repeal laws against adultery, sodomy

By Katie McKellar, KSL | Posted - Jan 30th, 2019 @ 8:38am



SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House of Representatives approved a bill Tuesday that would make changes to the state's criminal code, including a repeal of the criminal offenses of adultery and sodomy.

Utah's current criminal code lists adultery as a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and fines under the state code's "Offenses Against the Family" chapter. Sodomy is also listed as a class B misdemeanor.

But HB40's sponsor, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, said laws against adultery and sodomy have long ago been found to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, so Utah lawmakers need to clean up the state's code.

"As part of our cleanup for this, we're just going to strike those out of our laws here because we can't enforce them," Ray said on the House floor.

Ray's bill makes several other changes to Utah's criminal code — changes Ray said were determined to be "low-hanging fruit" by the Utah Legislature's Criminal Code Task Force, a group charged last summer with cleaning up the state's lawbook.

Ray said HB40 makes needed but technical changes, hinting that another bill will be surfacing later in the 2019 session to "take care of more controversial issues."

Among other changes, HB40 also makes it clear in Utah code that sex workers that are attacked or have crimes committed against them can report the crimes without fear of being prosecuted for prostitution.

The bill, approved by a unanimous vote of the full House, now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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