(KXAN/NEXSTAR) — The state of Texas has more than a few of oddball laws on its books — it’s still illegal to milk to someone else’s cow, for instance — but for the most part, they’re not ultra-enforceable. But did you know there’s a Texas penal code dictating how many sex toys a Texan can own?
What’s more, it’s been enforced relatively recently.
It’s all part of Texas Penal Code Title 9 (Offenses Against Public Order and Decency), Chapter 43 (Public Indecency), which outlines laws regarding prostitution, pornography and more. Section 43.23 in particular outlines rules around what are known as “obscene devices,” which are defined as “a dildo or artificial vagina, designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.”
Beyond the restrictions around the number of adult toys a Texan can legally own or sell, Texas Penal Code also dictates how adult toys can be marketed for sale. As Reuters reported back in 2004, a Dallas-area Joanne Webb faced up to a year in prison and a $4,000 fine after throwing a Tupperware-style sales party for adult items, also known by the brand name “Passion Parties.”
Webb was charged with violating the state’s obscenity law, which bans demonstration and instruction of an “obscene” device’s intended uses. According to Texas law, items like adult toys must be sold as “novelties.”
Ultimately, the case was dismissed and charges were dropped.
A few years later, in 2007, a Lubbock lingerie store called Somethin’ Sexy was raided by local police after a complaint about sales of adult toys, according to local outlets. Those charges were also later dropped.
The obscenity statute has been challenged many times, though it it still remains on the books. As of its last major challenge, in 2008, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel explained that the Texas Supreme Court would not take up a case at that time but that all parties concerned had come to an agreement that the law was unconstitutional and unenforceable.
An ‘SOB’ permit
While this isn’t specified in Texas Penal Code, a little-known-but-interesting local law out of Harris County requires performers at strip clubs to carry what’s known as an SOB permit. Here, the “SOB” stands for “sexually oriented business” permit.
While Harris County regulations require all employees of such businesses (even cashiers, cooks and accountants) to carry these at all times, dancers may have extra trouble finding ways to keep it on their person for obvious reasons.
According to the county, the regulations and permits aim to protect employees and the public from businesses that may be hiding criminal activities, including prostitution, which is illegal in Texas.