On Tue, 12 Jan 1999, Steg Belsky wrote:
> I thought that "sodomy" meant _homosexual *rape*_, and not just sex
> between members of the same sex. Isn't the word based on the Biblical
> story of Lot and the Angels in Sdom, where Lot's evil neighbors told him
> to send out his guests, because they wanted to rape them?
You have the etymology correct, but the actual *definition* of "sodomy"
depends on who you talk to, what part of the country, etc.. I have
heard all of the following as definitions of "sodomy":
(1) Oral/anal/vaginal sex between people of the same sex (= homosexual
(2) Oral/anal/vaginal sex between people of the same sex OR between
a person and an animal (= homosexual sex + bestiality).
(3) Oral/anal sex, regardless of the gender of the participants, and
sometimes also including various kinds of foreplay (= non-procreative
sex, homosexual or heterosexual).
(4) Oral/anal sex between two men.
(5) Anal sex only, regardless of gender.
(6) Anal sex only, regardless of gender, OR bestiality.
(7) Anal sex between two men.
As far as I know, nobody uses "sodomy" to refer specifically to acts
of rape. The intentions of the 'perpretrators' are unimportant.
In my experience, most anti-gay people are referring to (4) or (7)
when they use the term, even though (3) is probably the older sense.
Somewhere along the line, people went from thinking "sodomy" =
"non-procreative sex" to thinking "sodomy" = "gay sex". My desktop
dictionary adopts definition (6), but this is not the most normal usage.
Most people, I think, regard bestiality as being something separate from
sodomy (though they may feel that both are equally heinous...).
Anti-sodomy statutes may be based on any one of the definitions
above. Most anti-sodomy statutes do not refer to the gender of the
participants, but a couple refer specifically to homosexual sex. As far
as I know, only gay men and lesbians have been prosecuted (persecuted)
under anti-sodomy laws in recent times.