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US state overturns gay sex ban

An appeals court has ruled that an Alabama law criminalising consensual homosexual conduct is unconstitutional.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously overturned the state's anti-sodomy law.

The judges said it was the first time the law's constitutionality had been addressed since the US Supreme Court overturned a similar Texas law in 2003.

Civil and gay-rights advocates say the ruling is a step in the right direction.

The state attorney general's office brought the case to the appeals court after a prosecutor failed to get a jury to convict a defendant on the felony charge of first-degree sodomy.

The jury had convicted the defendant of the lesser, non-felony charge of sexual misconduct.

The Human Rights Campaign says Alabama is one of a dozen states with anti-sodomy laws on the books.

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