Every House Republican Blocks Bill that Would Have Struck ‘Homosexuality’ from PA Criminal Laws

Protesters gather in Harrisburg in May 2020. (Shutterstock Photo/Jelani Photography)

By Patrick Abdalla, umesarfaraz

May 24, 2021

Early Monday, state Rep. Mike Zabel presented an amendment to remove “homosexuality” from Pennsylvania’s crimes code.

HARRISBURG — Apparently, every Republican in the the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is fine with homosexuality being considered “obscene” and “deviate.”

In a partisan vote on Monday afternoon, all 111 Republicans in the House voted to table an amendment that would have removed “homosexuality” from Pennsylvania’s criminal laws. A similar bill is in committee in the state Senate. 

All 90 Democrats in the state House voted to strip “homosexuality” from the obscenity laws.

State Rep. Mike Zabel (D-Delaware) introduced the amendment.

He tweeted out his disgust after Republicans scuttled it.

State Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia), a co-sponsor of the bill, talked about his disappointment.

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) expressed his disbelief.

Sims and Kenyatta are two of the first openly gay members of the state Legislature. Both plan to seek higher office in 2022; Sim has announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor and Kenyatta is seeking the US Senate seat that will be vacated by Pat Toomey.

Monday was “a shameful day in Harrisburg,” said state Sen. Tim Kearney (D-Chester/Delaware).

In March, Kearney introduced legislation in the Senate to remove specific “unnecessary, offensive” references to “homosexuality” from the state crimes code. Senate Bill 609 has been sitting in committee ever since.

Kearney introduced the bill after residents of Upper Darby, Delaware County, scrapped a township ordinance that had specific references to homosexuality. Township officials found that their ordinance mirrored language that appeared in the state crimes code.

“In 2021, there is no good or technical reason to distinguish homosexuality within our Public Indecency statute,” Kearney wrote in a memo.


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