California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a controversial new law regarding judges’ discretion on whether or not to add individuals to the state’s sex offender registry who have committed sodomy with minors.
Newsom signed the bill, passed by the Democratic-controlled state legislature, into law without comment on Friday, expanding the discretion granted to judges in statutory rape cases, according to ABC 7 News Los Angeles.
California law permitted judges to decide whether a man was placed on the sex offender registry if he had consensual intercourse with someone 14 to 17 years old and was not more than 10 years older than the other person. However, that discretion only applied to vaginal intercourse, which LGBT advocates, including the author of the new bill signed into law Friday, argued was discriminatory to gay men.
“This eliminates discrimination against LGBTQ youth in our criminal justice system,” the bill’s sponsor, San Francisco Democratic state Rep. Scott Wiener, said about the legislation (known as SB 145) that he proposed.
“SB 145 ends discrimination against #LGBTQ young people on the sex offender registry. Currently, these youth are forced onto the registry for consensual sex — even if a judge doesn’t think it’s appropriate — in situations where straight youth are not,” Wiener added on social media. “This discrimination destroys lives.”
Many have criticized the bill, arguing that sex between a teenager and someone 10 years older than them is not always consensual and should always warrant being placed on the sex offender registry.