Pa. House votes to remove ‘homosexuality’ from state crimes code

The Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Pennsylvania Capital-Star photo.)

One of the lesser known pieces of statewide LGBTQ-related legislation in Pennsylvania, HB 2125, passed the state house 198-0 on June 8. Sponsored by Republican Representative Todd Stephens (R-Horsham), HB 2125 amends Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute and removes discriminatory language concerning homosexuality from the title.

Title 18 regulates crimes and offenses. The sections to be changed are §5902, which regulates prostitution, and §5903 regulating obscene and other sexual materials and performances. The amendment to the latter specifically changes language in conjunction with pornography.

“This bill provides a long overdue update to our crimes code to ensure nobody is prosecuted because of who they love,” Rep. Stephens said June 8. “Eliminating this archaic language will also help promote a culture of acceptance and inclusion for our LGBTQ community across Pennsylvania.”

§5902 currently includes “homosexual and other deviate sexual relations” as sexual activities relating to prostitution. §5903 defines “sexual conduct” as “masturbation, homosexuality, sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality or physical contact with a person’s clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks or, if such person be a female, breast.” HB 2125 seeks to remove references to homosexuality from both statutes. 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania told PGN that they do not know how significant the amendment to the statute would be since they were “not sure when the last time someone was charged under those statutes. It’s likely Stephens’ bill was based on two other similar bills filed last year: Rep. Mike Zabel’s bill: HB 1279 and Sen. Tim Kearney’s bill: SB 609.”

Bill McGlinn, interim executive director at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center told PGN, “It’s not a crime to be LGBTQ+, and it’s a shame that it’s taken the state this long to consider removing that from the books. While bipartisan support of this largely symbolic bill is needed and appreciated, a more meaningful move would be to pass the Fairness Act. Facing discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is the real crime.”

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