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François Elluin, Sodomites provoking the wrath of God, from Le pot pourri de Loth, 1781

Since about the Middle Ages, sodomy is used for sexual acts that do not have the purpose procreation (making babies). In general, this refers to anal or oral sex. In some cases, it is also used to refer to sex with animals (which is usually called zoophilia). Depending on the time, the society and culture, there were laws that made sodomy a crime. Today, such laws have been overturned, or they are not enforced, in many countries of the world.

Countries where religion plays a large role may still have punishments for such crimes, as they are often mentioned in the scriptures of the religion which is important in the country.

Such laws, called sodomy laws, are sometimes also used to criminalize homosexuality.