Sodomy Law: Massachusetts Bay, 1648

"severely punished"

The Massachusetts Body of Laws and Liberties, passed in 1641 but not before printed, constituted the first collection of statutes published in the American colonies.(1) The origins of these Massachusetts statutes were partly Mosaic, partly English common law, and partly an original colonial invention. The sodomy provision was identical to the Massachusetts law of 1641, except for the addition that boys under fourteen, or the party who was forced, were to be "severely punished," but not put to death.

This Massachusetts law was next revised in 1697.




  1. Adapted from Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay/Lesbian Almanac (NY: Harper & Row, 1983), p. 92, which cites Max Farrand, ed., Book of the General Lawes and Liberties of Massachusetts (San Marino, Calif.: Huntington Library, 1929), p. 5. The list of capital crimes is the same as that printed on the 1643 London broadside; the sodomy provision cites Genesis 19:5 in the margin.