The LGBT director of Human Rights Watch has said the decision by the Louisiana House to keep a sodomy law is ‘a startling act of state-endorsed homophobia’.

Last week the Louisiana House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to keep a sodomy law in the state’s penal code, by a vote of 27-66.

A bill, submitted by Democrat Patricia Haynes Smith, would have removed the unconstitutional provision which criminalises ‘crimes against nature’, after it was used to target gay men by entrapment last year.

The law has long been unconstitutional, and was deemed to be illegal and unenforceable over a decade ago, by the US Supreme Court in 2003.

Graeme Reid, LGBT rights director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Louisiana’s failure to repeal the ‘crime against nature’ laws is a startling act of state-endorsed homophobia.

“These unconstitutional provisions invite local police to illegally intimidate, harass, and arrest people suspected of engaging in consensual same-sex relations.

“It not only sends a negative symbolic message, but also shows its disregard for basic human rights to privacy and free expression.

“Until these discriminatory laws are repealed, the door remains open for police abuse of LGBT people and other minority communities in Louisiana.”

The bill was voted down after the powerful Louisiana Family Forum wrote to every Representative, warning them off it.

TV host Rachel Maddow recently compared the move to ‘a chicken running around with its head cut off’.

A separate provision in the state, to protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, was shelved earlier today due to lack of support.