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Two Men Sue City Of San Leandro And Police Over Sex Sting, Alleging Discrimination

The city of San Leandro, California and the San Leandro police department are being sued in federal court by two men who were arrested in June 2012 during an undercover sex sting that targeted gay men cruising a public bathroom near the San Leandro Marina, The Oakland Tribune reports:

Sanleandropolice2"While it's technically illegal to engage in sexual activity in a public place, targeting only gay men for the activity is troublesome and could be a valid example of discrimination, legal experts said.

In the lawsuit filed against San Leandro, Steven Mengel and Michael Woody accused city officials of purposely targeting only gay men in its effort to stop sexual activity in public places.

Furthermore, the men claim that the city caused emotional distress by distributing news releases identifying them and notifying the public that they had been arrested for attempting to conduct a lewd act in public."

Peter Renn, an attorney for Lamda Legal, spoke with the Tribune about the effects publicizing these arrests can have on the individuals:

"Publicizing the arrest has the effect of harassing and publicly humiliating someone who may very well be innocent. People shouldn't be tried and convicted through press releases."

The release of the names and photos of individuals arrested in such sex stings is not uncommon. Last year, 18 men were arrested in an undercover sting carried out by police in Manhattan Beach, California.  Their names and photos were subsequently published. As reported here, in recent years gay men have been targeted by sting raids in Boston, Palm Springs, New York, Newark, and Huntsville, among many others. At this time there does not appear to be any evidence to suggest that police departments across the country are equally concerned with lewd heterosexual behavior in public places.

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  1. This isn't likely to fly and to be honest, if you're going to have sex in public, I have about as much sympathy for you as I did those two yahoos on the cruise ship.

    Take it indoors.

    Posted by: Marc C | Jun 16, 2013 7:27:29 PM

  2. Gentleman, it's called Steamworks, it's 20 minutes north in Berkeley and no one is going to arrest you there or put your names in the paper.

    Posted by: Sean | Jun 16, 2013 7:36:25 PM

  3. I'm inclined to agree -- if you decide to "cottage" then you run the risk of being arrested. i'm not into it, and I think people should be able to use public restrooms without expecting to pickup up or to have to see two people (gay or straight) having sex.

    Posted by: ryank | Jun 16, 2013 7:39:45 PM

  4. It's not discrimination. The police routinely bust heterosexual men for soliciting prostitutes and doing it in the car. In Clearwater, the police steal your car when they bust you.

    Posted by: David Hearne | Jun 16, 2013 7:43:55 PM

  5. It isnt discrimination. More often than not the men cruising there are "straight" men. Most gay men don't need that in their lives, but closeted men do. Ill say something that I have never told anyone ever. I was arrested doing it once while living a closeted lifestyle. That was ten years ago and I cant imagine ever wanting to do that again. I understand feeling alone and wanting the sex you crave, but with so many apps for sex and spas out there, there is really no reason for an out gay man to get busted for this anymore. Unfortunately that just leaves the straight guys to blow each other.

    Posted by: Jerry | Jun 16, 2013 8:01:38 PM

  6. This is 2013. Get with the times, gentlemen.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jun 16, 2013 8:02:38 PM

  7. Michael Woody??? The irony...

    Posted by: TomTallis | Jun 16, 2013 8:21:27 PM

  8. Have sex in bedrooms like normal people.

    Posted by: Chris | Jun 16, 2013 10:44:42 PM

  9. Prostitution is not the same thing as propositioning someone to have sex; don't even begin to say it is.

    When the cops start putting female undercover cops outside these places, who then offer to show their tits to straight guys if they'll show them their dicks, then bust those guys for doing it, maybe then it will not be discrimination. But that won't happen, because if it did, imagine how many stupid frat boys would get caught and then the uproar from mommy and daddy would be tremendous.

    Posted by: Kyle M. Sullivan | Jun 16, 2013 10:49:41 PM

  10. Personally I wouldn't be surprised if the risk of exposure were part of arousal for the dinosaurs who still do this.

    @Jerry, a man seeking other men for sex acts is not straight and never will be straight. I agree with the rest of your post, though.

    Posted by: Zeta | Jun 17, 2013 12:09:24 AM

  11. Who cares go to a motel or keep it in your pants its not that hard people

    Posted by: Lee | Jun 17, 2013 12:31:12 AM

  12. These toilets etc are haunts for the blow-and-go crowd. They offer a diverse bunch of sex seekers, including married men. They cater largely to "impulse homosexuality" as opposed to "orientation homosexuality".

    By "impulse homosexuality", I mean homosexual acts that are purely the result of libido in men who normally chase after women.

    Posted by: jason | Jun 17, 2013 1:23:49 AM

  13. Interesting how the term FAGGOTS now means closeted male homosexuals in NEED! No wonder the media is confused about appropriate nouns to use... as in Black, Latino, European, Hispanic, GAYSIAN (freak out CNN & FOX!

    Posted by: Malcolm Blue | Jun 17, 2013 4:05:19 AM

  14. No sympathy for these men... there is Grindr you know....

    Posted by: Alan Brickman | Jun 17, 2013 9:38:52 AM

  15. Yes, public bathroom sex is disgusting, and in this day and age, unnecessary, but then again, I'm not a desperate closet case/sex addict/etc. so who knows? These guys probably don't want to go to a bathhouse type deal because they're afraid they'll be seen and caught and known. I do think that police seek out gay/bi men and trans women on a level way more prevalent than they do heterosexuals, by a long way. If they even seek out heterosexuals at all.

    One can disagree with the act of public sex while also agreeing that these guys are being entrapped and targeted on a level not comparable to heterosexuals.

    Posted by: Francis #1 | Jun 17, 2013 9:57:20 AM

  16. the argument that police are not equally concerned with hetero public sex is a stupid one. They aren't as concerned with it because it just doesn't happen as much.

    I've never heard of a public place where men and women meet for anonymous public sex. When heteros have public sex, its usually a couple who do it in public for the thrill.

    Posted by: fanboi | Jun 17, 2013 3:47:21 PM

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