I wanted to post this so people in MA would know the law about public sex
New Rules Alter Line Drawn on Public Sex
Boston Globe, March 2, 2001
By Andrea Estes
Massachusetts State Police will not automatically roust people meeting at roadside rest areas—even people believed to be engaging in sexual activity, according to new guidelines disclosed yesterday.
Having sex in public places such as rest areas, beaches, and parks would not be considered illegal if the activity was adequately hidden from view, according to the two-page order.
The policy was issued to settle a lawsuit brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders on behalf of a gay man who was banned from highway rest stops on Cape Cod. Gays have long complained that they are harassed by police when they gather in public places, said Mary Bonauto, who represented GLAD in the case.
"This order, included in the [State Police] policy manual, is an incredibly positive first step," said Bonauto.
"This is major," said Captain Robert Bird, a State Police spokesman. "The State Police don’t want to infringe upon anybody’s rights and I think this order will help clarify exactly what those rights are."
The plaintiff in the case, called John Doe in court papers, had been convicted a year earlier for having sex with another man in the woods next to a Wareham rest stop.
"We’re not making specific accusations," Bonauto said, "but troopers need to be aware that just because they see something doesn’t mean it’s public activity and a criminal offense — far from it."
Bird said yesterday that the new policy "instructs our troopers to follow the way the Supreme Judicial Court has interpreted the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."
The rules make clear that "socializing and expressions of affection" are not considered sexual conduct. And public sexual conduct is not illegal unless there is a "substantial risk" that the conduct will be observed by a casual passerby, the order says.
"There’s a difference between doing it on a pitcher’s mound in the middle of the day and obviously taking steps to secret yourself," said Bonauto.