‘Necrophilia legislator’ on a crusade to outlaw loophole of arcane era
Necrophilia, the act of having sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a dead body, is still technically legal in many American states. In Massachusetts, one politician is trying to get that changed.
Aaron Vega, a 45-year-old state representative from Massachusetts, did not particularly want to go down in history as the “necrophilia legislator”, but when a captain in his local town’s police force came to him with what he calls a couple of “loopholes in the law”, he felt he had no choice but to risk the stigma.
“Currently, it is illegal to have sex with an animal in Massachusetts, but not with a dead person,” Vega said.
What the Democrat calls an “interesting paradigm” does not stop here.
“There is also a host of arcane Massachusetts laws that are still on the books,” he said.
Among other “outdated” and “unenforceable” laws in his state was the stated criminality of adultery, sodomy, blasphemy and the act of displaying an albino in public for hire, he pointed out.
Determined to change this, Vega is currently co-sponsoring a bill, filed earlier this year, to explicitly outlaw necrophilia under an existing section of the Massachusetts law books entitled “Crimes Against Chastity, Morality, Decency and Good Order”, making the act punishable by up to 20 years.
This is the very same chapter where many of the outdated laws Vega decries - like displaying an albino person in public for hire - are still contained. Another under the same section stipulates that “vagabonds” may be imprisoned for up to 12 months for “acting in a suspicious manner” in a public setting.
When pushed, Vega admits he knew of no particular necrophilia incident in his state, but that that didn’t mean sex with cadavers wasn’t going on.
Vega describes a potential scenario also brought up in an official letter dated August 22 by Denise Duguay, a police captain in his hometown of Holyoke, who is the same officer who came to him with the stated loophole last month.
“If a perpetrator rapes a victim prior to a murder, there will be two charges - a rape charge and a murder charge. Currently under the law if the perpetrator murders a victim and then rapes the victim after the murder, there would be only be one."
But John Troyer, a lecturer at the University of Bath, where he is also a member of the Centre for Death and Society, says that the use of the word “rape” or even “sexual assault” when it comes to necrophilia is debatable.
When you die, you lose your status as a person, Troyer explains, although you are still human, your body or your remains are quasi property. “You’re not really a subject, but you’re not fully an object,” he says.
Such nuances are what partially explain why anti-necrophilia legislation is so complex.
Necrophilia is prosecutable in a variety of different ways across the United States. Unlike the United Kingdom, which has an explicit and robust anti-necrophilia law under the sexual offences act, the United States has no such central legislation. A minority of states - including Arizona and Georgia - has explicit anti-necrophilia laws.
The bulk of US states, including Massachusetts, has less explicit legislation that Troyer categorizes either as “abuse of corpse laws” or “unnatural acts or crimes against nature laws”.
But there are eight states, including Nebraska, Kansas and Vermont, where there are no laws on the books whatsoever making necrophilia prosecutable.