Did you know it is currently against the law for unmarried people to have sex in Utah? Well, it’s true, but that could change in the very near future. Lawmakers just passed a new bill that, if signed by the governor, will scrap the statute that makes fornication a misdemeanor.
S.B. 43 aims to make a variety of changes to the Utah penal code, and one of them is to repeal Section 76-7-104 of the Utah Code. That statute says, “Any unmarried person who shall voluntarily engage in sexual intercourse with another is guilty of fornication.” The law classifies the offense as a B misdemeanor, which is punishable in Utah with up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The State House passed the bill, which had already made it through the Senate. Now it awaits a decision by Governor Gary Herbert.
What may seem like a no-brainer for those in more liberal locales has been met with a degree of opposition from Utah lawmakers.
“What is legally is often far below what is morally right,” Rep. Keven Stratton (R-Utah) said. “And I recognize our laws are not strong enough to rule an immoral people.”
The fornication statute is currently among laws classified under Offenses Against the Family. Other crimes under this chapter of the Utah Code include those related to abortion, sale of children, incest, bigamy, and adultery.
According to local KUTV, the fornication law is not enforced these days, as police and prosecutors do not pursue such cases. Enforcement would also prove difficult, as obtaining evidence would generally involve an invasion of privacy. In 2003, Georgia removed a similar law, with a court decision saying the government cannot “reach into the bedroom of a private residence and criminalize the private, noncommercial, consensual acts of two persons legally capable of consenting.”
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