Sodomy, Effeminacy, Identity

Mobilizations for Same-sexual Loves and Practices before the Second World War 1

Authored by: Gert Hekma

The Ashgate Research Companion to Lesbian and Gay Activism

Print publication date:  August  2015
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409457091
eBook ISBN: 9781315613147
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042914


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This chapter discusses early homosexual rights movements and some of their predecessors in their historical context. The main starting point is resistance to demonization of same-sexual practices by Church and state during the Enlightenment. Then, this abjection saw for the first time in European history substantial legal and philosophical opposition. Most remarkable were the views of the Marquis de Sade. Some countries legalized homosexual practices, beginning in France in 1791. Due to the French influence in that period, some states followed suit, but others did not. Changes from religious and legal to medical perspectives halfway during the nineteenth century led to lively debates in the German states regarding new laws, the creation of the word homosexual and new theories regarding this personage. In 1897, Berlin saw the establishment of the first homosexual rights movement and in the early twentieth century Germany took the lead with this new kind of science and activism.

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