Sex Talk

Is Oral Sex Illegal?

Q from a Female, Sophmore student at UT: I have heard that having oral sex is illegal. Is that true? I hope people don't actually get arrested for it!

Dr. Caron's Answer: Many of our laws dealing with sexual behavior were written 50, 100, or more years ago when society's values and attitudes toward sex and marriage were quite different from what we find acceptable today. Yet many of these laws remain on the books and are sometimes applied by special interest groups in discriminartory ways. About half the states in the U.S. have statutes prohibiting intercourse between unmarried persons, extramarital affairs, oral-genital sex, and anal intercourse. These are called sodomy laws, the term sodomy being applied rather freely to many forms of sex other than penis-in-vagina intercourse. As recently as 1986 the US Supreme Court upheld a Georgia antisodomy law in the case of Bowers v. Hardwick, citing condemnations of oral and anal sex dating back in English common law to the days of King Henry IV. In Georgia, oral and anal sex is a criminal offense "regardless of whether the parties who engage in it are married or unmarried, or of the same or different sexes." Yet in 26 states oral and anal sex is no longer a crime when engaged in by consenting adults. (Editors note: The Georgia case was used against a gay couple and to our knowledge has never been used against straight couples, whether married or not.)

© 2008, Sandra L. Caron

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It is not sex that gives the pleasure, but the lover. - Marge Piercy

American teens have the worst of all worlds...Our children are bombarded and confronted with sexual messages, sexual exploitation, and all manner of sexual criticism. But our society is by and large sexually illiterate. Faye Westheimer

Dr. Sandra L. Caron is a professor of human sexuality at the University of Maine. To submit a question to Dr. Caron or chat with your peers visit Got a question for Dr. Caron? Visit and ask away! Get a guaranteed personal and confidential response to your question: or E-Mail

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