S152(2), Palestine Penal Code of 1936, makes reference to carnal knowledge against the order of nature:

152(2) Any person who:— (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or (b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for ten years.

At the time of enactment, Mandatory Palestine was a British protectorate, and ended its existence in 1948. But between 1936 and 1948, that law was in power as part of a common-law mandate country.

Does this term have a broader history of usage in the world of common law, and what does it mean?

  • As far as I am informed, Palestine uses "Islamic Law" aka Sharia as the basis of its law, not common law, at least according to the Palestinian Basic Law, Art. 4
    – Trish
    Oct 30, 2023 at 9:12
  • also the Palestinian enal Coe of 1936 read: 151. For the purpose of this chapter any house, room or set of rooms in any house which is occupied or frequented by two, or more females for the purpose of prostitution shall be deemed to be a brothel.
    – Trish
    Oct 30, 2023 at 9:16
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    What is the law in Gaza seems to be a very complicated topic. But the phrase in question has a history independently of its current status in Gaza. Perhaps these are two (or more) separate questions.
    – alexg
    Oct 30, 2023 at 16:25
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    @ohwilleke shall I tell you that they also were different quotation marks? ;)
    – Trish
    Oct 30, 2023 at 19:49
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    @Seekinganswers "I struggled to see why the title was highlighted in change . . . " Just to be clear, stuff like that is no big deal in my book even though it is good to fix. Everybody does that sometimes and it doesn't reflect poorly on you.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 30, 2023 at 21:49

1 Answer 1


What was “carnal knowledge against the order of nature"?

Anal sex a.k.a. sodomy.

The phrase is widely used in places that have a common law tradition, see also, e.g. this court ruling from Uganda (a former British colony) in 2016.

The law review article, Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG, "THE SODOMY OFFENCE: ENGLAND’S LEAST LOVELY CRIMINAL LAW EXPORT?", Volume 1, JOURNAL OF COMMONWEALTH CRIMINAL LAW (2011), traces its history and dissemination into the British Colonies. The abstract of that article explains:

This article describes the influence of the British Empire on the intercontinental spread of the criminal offences involving adult, private, consensual same-sex activity. It describes the origins of the crimes in Judeo-Christian scriptures and early English common law and statutory offences. The nineteenth century moves for criminal law codification in Europe succeeded in abolishing such offence. They were not a feature of other European empires. However, although codification of criminal law failed in England, five template codes exported the sodomy and other offences to every land ruled by Britain. In 41 of the 53 Commonwealth countries, the offences remain in force. The article describes how they were (often reluctantly) repealed by legislation between 1967-97 in the older dominions. Repeal in newer Commonwealth countries has been slow or non-existent. The author describes new developments that give hope for progress, including the Naz Foundation Case in India (2009) and the recent moves in the United Nations and elsewhere to foster legislative and judicial removal of this unlovely legacy of Empire.”

  • How did codification of criminal law fail in England when there was the buggery act? ( See enwp.org/Buggery_Act ) Oct 30, 2023 at 21:36
  • @Seekinganswers In England, initially statutes established only particular offenses which were in addition to the common law offenses. The criminal law of England was only comprehensively codified, with common law offenses abolished, much later, the 1800s if I recall correctly. But codification was present in the colonies sooner, where case law was a cumbersome way to transmit the whole body of substantive English criminal law.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 30, 2023 at 21:47
  • I see… very interesting indeed. But what did you mean here by “substantive”? Oct 30, 2023 at 21:53
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    @Seekinganswers in contrast to criminal procedure which is procedural rather than substantive criminal law. Substantive criminal law concerns what constitutes a crime and what penalties are authorized for those crimes, including substantive as opposed to procedural affirmative defenses.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 30, 2023 at 21:59

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