FALSE: In Minnesota, there is a proposal to equate pedophilia with sexual orientation

FALSE: In Minnesota, there is a proposal to equate pedophilia with sexual orientation

29 May 2023
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Verification within Meta’s Third-Party Fact-Checking Program

On the network, information is being spread with reference to an article from Fox News, claiming that pedophilia might be allowed in the United States. The authors claim that Minnesota State Representative Erin Koegel has proposed removing a provision from Minnesota’s Human Rights Act that states, “sexual orientation does not include physical or sexual attraction to children by an adult”, which would equate pedophilia with sexual orientation and provide legal protection for pedophiles.

However, this is false. The bill does not define pedophilia as a sexual orientation or abolish punishment for this crime. The authors removed the language from the current law that associated pedophilia with sexual orientation.

In February 2023, Minnesota State Representative, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, Leigh Finke introduced House File 1655, also known as the “Pride Act“, which proposes changes to the definition of “sexual orientation”. The current definition states, “’sexual orientation’ means having or being perceived as having an emotional, physical, or sexual attachment to another person without regard to the sex of that person or having or being perceived as having an orientation for such attachment, or having or being perceived as having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one’s biological maleness or femaleness. “Sexual orientation” does not include a physical or sexual attachment to children by an adult”. The bill suggests removing the last sentence from this definition.

Leigh Finke explained that these changes aim to update outdated provisions that erroneously link pedophilia with a person’s sexual orientation. She added that pedophilia is not a sexual orientation, and therefore, such language should not have been included in the initial definition of the law.

The authors also seek to create a new definition of “gender identity” in Minnesota’s Human Rights Act and recognize discrimination based on gender identity as a violation.

However, the bill does not protect pedophiles or equate sexual attraction to children with sexual orientation. In a comment to PolitiFact, Brian Soucek, a law professor at the University of California, Davis School of Law, mentioned that in the Minnesota state law, sexual orientation refers to an attraction to another person regardless of their sex, with no mention of age. He added that no court has ever established that a law protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation extends to protecting pedophilia.

Law professor Arthur Leonard from the New York Law School expressed a similar opinion. “I am unaware of actual cases in which courts have interpreted bans on discrimination because of sexual orientation to protect ‘pedophiles’ from discrimination or from prosecution under criminal laws”, he said.

Co-author of the bill, State Representative Jamie Becker-Finn, also stated that the legislation does not change or weaken any of the crimes against children in Minnesota’s criminal law, nor does it impede the state’s ability to prosecute lawbreakers. According to Minnesota law, a person who commits sexual violence against children can be fined up to $40,000 and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of up to 15 years.

On April 26, 2023, the House of Representatives passed an amendment proposed by Congressman Harry Niska, which states that “the physical or sexual attachment to children by an adult is not a protected class under this chapter”. The Niska amendment will now proceed to a vote in the Senate.

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The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations