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Related: gay - homoeroticism - Paragraph 175 - sex

Compare: heterosexuality

Querelle (1982) - Rainer Werner Fassbinder
[FR] [DE] [UK]

Fassbinder's adaptation of Jean Genet's novel features surreal sets that underscore the dreamlike quality and abstraction of the novel. It was Fassbinder's final and, by his own words, most important movie. To us, in the early eighties, it was the quintessence of a macho/gay sensibility and it was copied by musicians such as Luc Van Acker on the cover of The Ship[1] album.


Homosexuality is a type of sexual orientation characterized by sexual desire or romantic love exclusively or almost exclusively for people who are identified as being of the same sex.

People who are homosexual, particularly males, are also known as "gay"; gay females are also known as "lesbians" --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality [Jul 2004]

Same-sex Activity

Same-sex activity, then, has always been a part of human culture, although the concept of a sexual identity based upon gender preference seems to be relatively recent. One possible reason for this, suggested by the philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was that persecution of homosexuality tends to encourage certain individuals to be exclusively homosexual and to define themselves as such, and homophobic laws encourage the growth of a gay sub-culture. Therefore, an individual who grows up in a society with strong views around which gender one is supposed to feel attracted to is influenced by these opinions during his or her development, and if they experience same-sex attraction the result is that such feelings are either buried or they become stronger as a reaction against suppression. There certainly were people in antiquity who were exclusively homosexual, but for most of them this was not an issue as their culture had a niche for them and did not sanction them because of their relationships. They would be absorbed into general society. However, when such individuals are threatened by a culture that tries to deny their existence, they have to fight back in order to survive, and this makes it necessary for them to have a definite sexual identity.

Society, religion, and the law

Societal attitudes towards homosexuality have varied over the centuries, from complete rejection through covert acceptance, to complete normalisation, with most degrees in between.

The religious response to homosexuality varies. At the present time the teachings of the Abrahamic religions are being interpreted by many to view homosexuality a sin, while Buddhism, Shinto and other religions generally do not judge this behavior so harshly. (see religion and homosexuality for a comprehensive discussion).

In some cultures, especially those influenced by fundamentalist interpretations of religions, homosexuality is considered a perversion and has been outlawed (see sodomy law, consensual crime); in some jurisdictions homosexual behaviour is a capital crime.

The relationship between the moral condemnation of homosexuality and its legal status is complicated. For instance, in England buggery was a crime under medieval canon law because it was banned by the Church. However, prosecutions for this offence died out. Homosexuality was formally banned by Parliament in the 19th century as one of a range of sexual offences, alongside sex with under-age girls, as part of an expression of a general moral outrage related to events of that time.

Persecution of homosexuals is common across cultures and ideologies. While it often claims religious justification, the experience of homosexuals in Nazi Germany is a recent egregious example of persecution by a racially based (rather than religiously-based) doctrine. The Nazis viewed homosexuality as a sign of eugenic moral weakness, rather than as a sin.

In pre-industrial western societies homosexuality was generally accepted by the lower classes and the upper class, less so among the bourgeoisie, though most professed to consider it immoral. However, with the rise of urbanisation and the nuclear family, homosexuality became less tolerated and even outlawed in some cases.

By the 19th Century most areas adopting the Code Napoleon (French-based civil law) had no specific ban on homosexuality, while many areas with British-based Common Law systems had anti-sodomy statutes and executed sodomites as late as the end of the 1800's.

Beginning in the 20th century, gay rights movements, as part of the broader civil rights movements, in concert with the development of the often activist academic treatment of sexuality in queer studies, have led to changes in social acceptance and in the media portrayal of homosexuality.

The legalization and legal equality of homosexual acts, together with legal status for same-sex marriage and non-gender-specific civil unions is one of the major goals of gay rights activism.

In recent years a number of jurisdictions had relaxed or eliminated laws curbing homosexual behavior, including sodomy laws and laws preventing homosexuals from serving in armed forces.

In England and Wales, homosexuality was legalized in 1967, for consenting males aged over 21. Scotland followed in 1980, and Northern Ireland in 1982. The age of consent was lowered in 1994 from 21 to 18, and again in 2000 to 16 in mainland Britain and 17 in Northern Ireland. This last change gave parity with the heterosexual age of consent. However, not until 2003 were the earlier offences of buggery and gross indecency abolished so that gay sex was treated in the same way as heterosexual sex (previously it was illegal for gay sex to involve more than two people, or for anyone to watch).

In the United States, the trend culminated on June 26, 2003 with the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas which overturned all sodomy laws in the United States.

In China no specific law has targeted any gay behavior, but gay men are often convicted of being "rascals," which can lead to a jail sentence or to re-education.

In Japan there are no laws against homosexual behaviour. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality#Society.2C_religion.2C_and_the_law [Nov 2004]

1869 [...]

The term homosexuality appears in print for the first time in 1869 in an anonymous German pamphlet 143 des Preussischen Strafgesetzbuchs und seine Aufrechterhaltung als 152 des Entwurfs eines Strafgesetzbuchs für den Norddeutschen Bund ("Paragraph 143 of the Prussian Penal Code and Its Maintenance as Paragraph 152 of the Draft of a Penal Code for the North German Confederation") written by Karl Maria Kertbeny. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality [Aug 2004]

Paragraph 175

In 1945, when concentration camps were liberated, gays were not freed but made to serve out their sentence under Paragraph 175. In 1950, East Germany abolished Nazi amendments to Paragraph 175, whereas West Germany kept them and had them even confirmed by its supreme court. About 100,000 men were implicated in legal proceedings from 1945 to 1969, and about 50,000 were convicted (if they had not committed suicide before, as many did). But in 1969, Social Democrats eased Paragraph 175 to an age of consent of 21. It was lowered to 18 in 1973, and finally repealed in 1994. East Germany reformed its more lenient version of the paragraph already in 1968, and repealed it in 1988. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paragraph_175

Buggery Act 1533

The Buggery Act was adopted in England in 1533 during the reign of Henry VIII, and was the first legislation against homosexuals in the country. (See also sodomy law.) It was also one of the first anti-sodomy laws passed by any Germanic country. All Germanic codes up to this time ignored sexual acts except adultery and rape. The Buggery Act was piloted through Parliament by Thomas Cromwell. The Act made buggery with man or beast punishable by hanging, a penalty not finally lifted until 1861. Some have suggested that zoophilia was specifically included because of the fear of hybrid births.

It is sometimes suggested that the Act was introduced as a measure against the clergy, since the Act was introduced following the separation of the Church of England from Rome, though there seems to be no firm evidence for this. The Act itself only states that there was no "sufficient and condigne punyshment" for such acts.

Contravention of the Act, along with treason, led Walter Hungerford, 1st Baron Hungerford, to become the first person executed under the statute in July 1540, though it was probably the treason that cost him his life. Nicholas Udall, a cleric, playwright, and Headmaster of Eton College, was the first to be charged for violation of the Act alone - and probably in a politically-motivated case - in 1541. In his case the sentence was commuted to imprisonment, and he was released in less than a year. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buggery_Act [Jun 2005]

see also: homosexuality - hybrid - law - sodomy - Sodom

Criminal Law Amendment Act and gross indecency

In 1860s [United Kingdom], the age of consent was twelve years old. Some people such as Josephine Butler and Barbara Bodichon were concerned that young girls were being sold to brothels. They became involved in the campaign against the white slave trade and in 1875 the House of Commons agreed to raise the age of consent to thirteen.

Campaigners were not satisfied with this change and continued to argue for further reform. In 1885 William Stead and Bramwell Booth of the Salvation Army joined forces to expose what they believed was an increase in child prostitution. In July 1885, Stead purchased Eliza Armstrong, a thirteen year-old daughter of a chimney-sweep, to show how easy it was to procure young girls for prostitution. Stead published an account of his investigations in the Pall Mall Gazette entitled Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon.

In September, William Stead and five others were charged with unlawfully kidnapping a minor and committed for trial at the Old Bailey. Stead was found guilty and was imprisoned for three months in Holloway Gaol. As a result of the publicity that the Armstrong case generated, Parliament in 1885 passed the Criminal Law Amendment Act that raised the age of consent from thirteen to sixteen, strengthened existing legislation against prostitution and proscribed all homosexual relations. --http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Lconsent.htm [Jun 2005]

Gross indecency
Oscar Wilde was charged with "committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons" under Section 11 of the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act, this being little more than a euphemism for any homosexual act, public or private. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Wilde#Imprisonment_in_Reading_jail [Jan 2005]

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (October 16, 1854 - November 30, 1900) was an Anglo-Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and short story writer. One of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day, known for his barbed and clever wit, he suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned after being convicted in a famous trial of "gross indecency" for his homosexuality. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Wilde [Jun 2005]

see also: white slave - homosexuality - law - Oscar Wilde - public - private - decency - sodomy

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