This is some appalling shit right here.
Long story short: cops and prosecutors in New Orleans are using an 1805 law about “unnatural copulation” to have convicted prostitutes labeled as sex offenders. Not only does this allow prosecutors to give longer jail sentences, but when they get out of jail, the prostitutes have an even harder time of things.
First of all, this is perverse. The ancient law criminalizes oral and anal sex, meaning that everyone reading this article, and probably everyone within 100 feet of everyone reading this article, could therefore be convicted as a sex offender in New Orleans. But New Orleans seems to be selecting only the prostitutes (and mostly black female ones at that) to slap with this. The article doesn’t mention if the prostitutes’ customers are getting convicted of this charge or not. I’d guess “not”.
Second, it abuses public fears about sexual assaults. “Sex offender” means, to most folks, “child molesters and serial rapists.” Period. It doesn’t mean hookers, strippers, or people who like kinky sex. But the people who the cops choose to charge as unnatural copulaters will have “SEX OFFENDER” printed on their driver’s licenses, end up in the sex offender registry, and notify all their neighbors that they are sex offenders. For fifteen years. Making a living by having consensual sex with people is really not the same thing as someone who gets their sexual thrills by forcing themselves on people weaker than themselves.
Third, prostitutes generally aren’t in the position they’re because they chose to. Most are extremely poor, can’t find any other work, have drug problems, or all three. Do we really have to go out of our way to punish people who are barely surviving in the first place? Some people apparently so.
It’s a good article, give it a read, and take a little heart that some people are fighting against the unjust law and prosecutions.