Moore, a hardline conservative Christian and former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, made the comments in an interview
with liberal commentator Bill Press on C-SPAN2's After Words. Moore appeared on the show to publicize a book he had just written about his expulsion from the court for refusing to take down a monument to the Ten Commandments.
During the interview Press asked Moore if he believed homosexual conduct should still be illegal after the 2003 landmark Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas that struck down a state law banning sodomy, rendering similar laws across the country unconstitutional.
"What I think is that it was illegal under the law, that the Supreme Court usurped the role of the legislature and ruled something about our moral law that is improper, and that's what we're finding the Supreme Court and the federal district courts are doing daily," Moore responded. "They've usurped the moral prerogative, now, if you want--"
Press cut in, saying, "I don't understand your answer. I think it's a yes or no. Do you think that homosexual--homosexuality, or homosexual conduct should be illegal today? That's a yes or no question."
"Homosexual conduct should be illegal, yes," Moore answered.
While Moore has long said he opposed the Supreme Court's 2003 decision, his response to Press's question is the most explicit answer he has given in public on his beliefs regarding the legality of sexual conduct between gay adults.
A phone call to Moore wasn't returned. A spokesperson for Moore's campaign, Noel Fritsch said he wouldn't answer CNN's questions about Moore's current position.
Moore made similar comments in a 2015 video posted
on YouTube by user Lone Star Q. In the video, Moore was asked, "Do you still think that homosexuality should be illegal?"
"I think homosexuality should be illegal," Moore said. "Sodomy was declared illegal by the United States Supreme Court in 1987, it said there was no right under the constitution to enlarge the fundamental rights of homosexuals."
"But then they came back and overturned it," the interviewer said.
"Well surely they overturned it. They didn't go by their own precedent, did they?" Moore said.
Moore has been a staunch opponent of LGBT rights throughout his career. Last September he was suspended
from Alabama's Supreme Court for failing to comply with the Federal Supreme Court's ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide. In 2014, Moore wrote letters
to all 50 state governors calling on them to convene a constitutional convention to ban gay marriage.
CNN has also reported
that Moore repeatedly appeared on a radio show hosted by a pastor who preaches the death penalty for homosexuality.
Later in the interview, when Press asked why the government should ban what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes, Moore compared gay sex to bestiality.
"Just because it's done behind closed doors, it can still be prohibited by state law. Do you know that bestiality, the relationship between man and beast is prohibited in every state?" Moore asked.
"Did I ask you about having sex with a cow?" Press responded.
"No you didn't," Moore said.
"Or a horse, or a dog?" Press asked.
"It's the same thing," Moore said.
"No it's not. You mean homosexuality is same thing as bestiality?" Press asked.
"It is a moral precept upon which this country was founded," Moore said.
This story has been updated with additional comments Moore made in 2015.