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The California SB 145 was legally signed by Gavin Newsom – Q Voice Information

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California Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) speaks during a committee hearing in May about SB 932, which would require providers and county health officials to collect data on the LGBTQ community and COVID-19. Photo: Screengrab.

Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Draft 145 on Friday night, ending discrimination against LGBTQ youth who are forced to be listed on California's sex offender registry.

SB 145 only applies to conviction. It gives judges the power to determine whether someone convicted of consensual anal or oral sex should register as a sex offender. It is already at the judges' discretion to make this decision in cases of vaginal intercourse.

SB 145 signed into law

A loophole in the law that has been on the books since 1944 forces anyone convicted of consensual anal oral sex, such as gay men or lesbians, to register as sex offenders. Judges have no authority in these cases.

At the time, homosexuality was illegal in California, and this element was a way to punish and stigmatize gay men and lesbians. It's also a relic from California's homophobic past.

California's "broken" sex offender registry is being reformed in a new bill

"It is appalling that California will continue to discriminate against LGBTQ people in 2020 by mandating that LGBTQ youth be included on the sex offender register in situations where straight people are not required to be registered," said Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) said the author of the bill in a statement.

"SB 145 ends this discrimination simply by treating LGBTQ youth in the same way that heterosexual youth have been treated since 1944."

Right-wing critics of the law have attacked Wiener with vicious attacks and threats and launched a misinformation campaign about SB 145, falsely claiming that she legalized sex with minors and promoted pedophilia.

SB 145 facts

SB 145, which will become law on January 1, 2021, does not legalize sex with minors under the age of 14 and applies to intercourse of any kind with minors under the age of 14.

SB 145 only applies to voluntary sex.

The bill also does not change the possible punishment for those convicted of having sex with anyone under the age of 14. In these cases, the registration of sex offenders is required by law.

The age of consent for sexual intercourse in California is 18 years. Accordingly, any sexual act with anyone under the age of 18 is a crime. However, whether it is a misdemeanor or a criminal offense, under the California Penal Code, depends on the age of the people involved.

Fix the law

Under current law, an offender who commits voluntary but illegal "sexual intercourse" (ie, vaginal intercourse) between a teenager aged 14-17 and a partner aged 10 does not need to be listed in the state's sex offender register. Instead, the judge has the discretion to decide, based on the facts, whether registering sex offenders is justified or not justified – except in cases involving anal or oral sex.

SB 145 will address this discrimination and protect young LGBTQ people.

"Adding a person to the sex offender register has life-long consequences," Los Angeles assistant district attorney Bradley McCartt said in a statement. "The ability for judges and prosecutors to individually evaluate cases of voluntary sexual activity between young people will ensure justice for all Californians."

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