Referred to in legalese, as being anal sex between two men, and can include felatio.
In today's legal terms, this is the act of one man engaging in anal sex with another male. It can also refer to a man having oral sex with another male.
In Biblical terms, well, it is a bit difficult to tell exactly what the term means, or in a religious sense even. It can include any so called 'unnatural sexual act' hence today's more modern terminology for such sexual acts. (Sexual Deviant Acts)
Comes from the Ecclesiastical Latin words 'peccatum Sodomiticum' meaning the 'Sin of Sodom' from the biblical reference to Sodom and Gomorrah
Modern day laws, many of which are being repealed or replaced, are based on the Biblical Tale of Sodom and Gomorrah, in which 2 Angels were sent to determine if the City should be razed.
The story talks about how the citizens (men) of the City approached Lot, demanding he bring the 2 strangers forward so they 'could know them better' which is supposed to mean, engage in sex with them.
While the term, as used within the Bible, generally referred to such language as meaning sexual relations, the story is unclear as to if that was the meaning applied here, though Religious Scholars over the Centuries have ASSUMED it to mean just that. They claim that Lot's disgust, and offering of his virgin daughters was an attempt at compromise, so as to spare the 2 Angels such a vile treatment.
History (Legend): Later interpretations of this passage in the Bible, has led to the Religious acceptance of Homosexuality being an 'abomination' unto GOD, hence their objection to the modern day legalization of Homosexuality.
It should be noted, that some scholars of ancient times dispute the reference to this story, that the term used did not refer to the Men who visited Lot, to mean engaging in sex with the strangers.
In addition, some Ancient Jewish Scholars made claim that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was not due to the sexual antics of the citizens, but their lack of consideration for the poor and homeless of their people. That they didn't not practice Charity, and that they had a total disregard for the ill, the poor, the weak.
In a religious sense, having sex with a person of the same gender is being called 'sodomy' and is therefore unnatural, as they use the various ancient text to prove the claim. However, that is in dispute, as the term 'abomination' is used in the Bible to refer to many different acts, and sex among males is only mentioned in Leviticus, while there are other references of acts, that are considered to be 'abominations' and repeated throughout.
Practice (Associated Acts): It was Justin I of the Byzantine Empire in about 500AD that first made homosexuality, 'sodomia' a capital offence, based on sexual activity. He first brought the sexual connotation into law, in reference to the Biblical Tale of Sodom and Gomorrah.
It was used by this Tyrant against those who opposed his rule, when he couldn't come up with other crimes or gain conviction against them for other crimes.
Justinian I association of male to male sex as Sodomy took hold during the Inquisition among the Christian Faithful who began to accept Benedicts claim for harsh punishment of the unfaithful.
Around 1184, the attack on Heretics began to also include sexual activities, so called unnatural acts. This was due to the power play going on at the time, and the persecution of non believers. It led from those who opposed the 'accepted word or order of God' to include homosexuals, that then later involved to the Witch Hunts of the time.
In all cases of heretics, they would include the notation of sexual misconduct, of deviant behavior. It was again, due to Justinian I and his political power plays, that yielded the notion that Sodomy acts lead to disease, to natural disasters, and such.
In Ezekiel 16.49-50 the reference to Sodom and Gomorrah does not in fact mention any sexual activity, but is more about God destroying the city, due to its lack of compassion, charity.
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. (Ezekiel 16.49-50)
Sodomy has been used to promote one form of believe over the natural acts, as the sexual attraction of same sex persons is noted throughout History itself. Pederasty is one such example, that pre dates Christianity by at least a thousand plus years.
It is interesting to note that the Supreme Court Ruling in 2003 resulted in the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals acknowledging that Sodomy was no longer applicable grounds for misconduct in the Armed Forces, under Article 125. It did rule that public display of such activity was still a valid use of Article 125..
In the United States, the first sodomy laws began to appear around 1905, and were coined by an attorney from West Virginia, E.D. Leach.
By the 1950's 'Sodomy' laws were across the land, and upheld in a 1986 Supreme Court ruling, that was overturned that ruling in 2003. However, some sates had begun repealing their Sodomy laws, as early as 1961.(Illinois)