We recommend reading Part One first.
Age of Horrors
Unlike ancient times, the attitude towards homosexuality has sharply deteriorated with the flowering of Christianity. Even compared with Judaism, the position of religious doctrine has become much more rigid. One of the main arguments that reinforced new views was the history of Sodom and Gomorrah.
To the Jews, Sodom had traditionally been identified with shortcomings such as irreligiousness, pride, and adultery. It was these wrongdoings that they thought had incurred the wrath of God. According to some historians, it was Philo of Alexandria, who have interpreted this story as a punishment particularly for homosexuality. This version was soon picked up by the fathers of the church.
This term is used to this day. And it still has different interpretations: homosexual encounters between men, and sometimes all types of anal sex and masturbation are also called sodomy.
Either way, the church quickly equated sodomy with mortal sin. With the „help” of Christian theologians, the personal life of citizens ceased to be personal and became a public matter. In order to combat sin, special church laws, regulating sexuality were introduced.
Already in the fourth century there was a huge number of punishments for people accused of sodomy (also they were called “the ones, who took a passive role of a bride”. “the ones, acting the part of a woman, etc) beginning with castration (followed by hanging upside down until dead,) and ending with public burning.
According to “Golden Legend”, the collection of hagiographies by Blessed Jacobus de Varagine, all homosexuals across the world had been divinely exterminated in preparation for Jesus Christ's arrival. However, the clergy considered that God needed some help from their side.
Joe and Bryan found out that heresy and sodomy were interconnected in the minds of Christians, who lived at that time. All heretical groups were accused of sodomy as well, whether or not there was any evidence.
No one had any clue about sexual orientation at the time, there was no concept of people being gay, or even of being an "exclusive homosexual". People were executed, for practicing sodomy, i.e. engaging in gay sex. Thus not only homosexuals were punished, but also simple heterosexuals who were eager to experiment sexually in bed.
Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans and Calvinists, all of them justified capital punishment for homosexuals by references to the Bible.
The Middle Ages proved particularly difficult for gays. By the 14th century, the rulers of almost all European countries submitted to the pressure of the church and declared sodomy a crime. Doctors diplomatically kept silent, leaving this problem to the mercy of the priests, who in turn, did not stand on ceremony with sodomites. The Inquisition declared sodomy to be the product of the devil, as well as sorcery or heresy. So, for example, according to the English law of the 13th century, people who were seen through sexual intercourse with their own sex (and also with Jews and children) were burned alive. In order to pass judgment, the judges did not even have to prove that the defendant had sex with men, a frank confession extended under torture, was more than enough.
Interesting fact: Do you know, that a few days ago Pope has abolished death penalties? (Read more )
Joe and Bryan find it hard to tell how much was burned alive on charges of sodomy. Since very often, the records at that time were not archived.
For example, they claim, that estimate number of people killed just by the Spanish Inquisition, (which Sixtus Fourth authorized in a papal bill in 1478) have ranged from 30,000 to 300,000.
But some historians would disagree. They are convinced that millions died.
In England, the burning of sodomites continued until the middle of the 17th century, and in France, according to various sources, they were burned as far back as 1725.
The Ottoman Empire
Majority of Muslim theologians, Joe and Bryan have spoken to, also brought up the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and "People of Lot destroyed by the wrath of God because they engaged in lustful carnal acts between men”. However, some think that this is not an anti-gay story.
These debates continue to this day. In the majority of Islamic countries, there are still various penalties for homosexual encounters, but there is also a movement, which claims that Islam is not against homosexuality. And that you can be the righteous man, even if you are gay.
We will further discuss it, as soon as Joe and Bryan return to the present time.
Despite the fact that traditional Islamic jurisprudence forbids homosexual acts, and suggests different punishments (including death), homosexual relationships were generally tolerated in pre-modern Islamic societies.
For example, at the times of the Ottoman Empire, morals, in general, did not change, but in some cases, they became freer. This era was characterized by the same ambivalent attitude towards homosexuality - it was formally condemned, but in fact, same-sex love existed quite freely, even without the support of society. Also amongst privileged members of society homoerotic friendship was a common occurrence.
Joe and Bryan saw that many men flirted with young beardless slaves, who were brought to the capital from all around the Empire.
In the 16th century, the Turkish historian Mustafa Ali has criticized people of quality who spent time in the company of handsome young men, holding their arms, presenting gifts, kissing and embracing them in public places.
Comic strip: It somehow reminds me of the relationship between young men and older men in Greece, where the younger partner played a passive role, and the elder, active, was his protector.
The rulers also experienced same-sex feelings. For example, Sultan Murad Fourth was bisexual. After dinner, he often rested on the balcony, watching as young soldiers trained on the field in front of the palace.
It is curious that the mother of the Sultan supported her son's homosexual feelings because she feared that if he fell in love with one of the wives and she would have an influence on him, it would threaten her own.
Women's love also found expression in the Ottoman culture. Women often fell in love with each other and met in places where they could not be seen by men - for example, in public baths.
However, morals and views became much more severe by the middle of the nineteenth century. On the contrary, in Europe people began to question the scientific part of same-sex attractions.
Science Steps In
Under the influence of humanistic ideas, by the end of the 18th century, some of the most brutal laws aimed at combating homosexuality were abolished or replaced by milder ones. Revolutionary France, then Prussia (1794) and the Netherlands (1811) became one of the first countries to do so. All changes so far were made without taking into account medical and scientific data. However, science and medicine have already begun to actively deal with issues of sexuality.
In order to refer to people who are sexually attracted to persons of the same sex, the terms Homosexual and Homosexuality were first used in German by the Austrian writer of Hungarian origin Karl-Maria Kertbeny in 1869.
In 1886, Austrian and German psychiatrist Richard von Kraft-Ebing published " Psychopathia Sexualis " - a book that became the first scientific work on sexology. The psychiatrist used a material of observations of patients in the clinic of the University of Graz in Austria. He systematized many cases of “atypical sexual behavior”, including homosexuality.
Kraft-Ebing did not consider homosexuality as a moral defect. He saw it as a disease, which was difficult, but not impossible to treat.
Also, according to a psychiatrist, in a society where marriages are not prohibited between drunkards or between "hereditary degenerates," people with "wrong sexual feelings" should not be deprived of medical assistance.
Sometime later, in 1901, a British doctor, Havelock Ellis has claimed, that homosexual men (with the exception of their sexual orientation) do not differ from heterosexual people of the same age and social status.
His was met with hostility and banned from publication in Great Britain.
But radical changes have emerged in the views of scientists and physicians: psychiatrists began to increasingly discuss the role of sexuality in general, and one of the best examples is the work of Sigmund Freud.
Freud developed a theory according to which sexuality plays a central role in the human psyche. He not only researched previously tabooed phenomenon and mental processes but also developed a concept in which all people are born without clear sexual preferences. According to Freud, all people are originally bisexual, and homosexuality is a consequence of a malfunction in the process of sexual development. Freud also paid attention to female homosexuality, which for a long time remained virtually out of sight of both doctors and philosophers.
The works of Kraft-Ebing, Havelock, Freud and other researchers caused not only discussions in a professional environment. They also led to the fact that in Europe some organizations began to operate in support of homosexuals
The Pink Triangle
However, the Nazis who came to power in Germany proclaimed homosexuality as a perverse behavior, which in this case is of a biological nature. Thus, the persecution and even the physical extermination of gays for the first time received not a religious but a pseudo biologic justification.
And, as in the case of Christian laws more than 1,500 years ago, homosexual contacts among men, rather than women, were mainly prosecuted.
In the late 1930s, the government of Nazi Germany launched a program of "cleansing" the German society from "undesirable elements." Representatives of various groups sent them to concentration camps without any trial or investigation. It was called protective arrests.
A bit later, the special system of marks for prisoners was developed. The patches for the uniforms of prisoners were created. They had the shape of the triangle and various colors which served to indicate the "category".
Various sources claim, that between 1933 and 1944, in Nazi Germany around 50 thousand men (including about four thousand adolescents), were sentenced according to the 175th paragraph (a provision of the German criminal code, which made homosexual encounters illegal).
Also, according to various sources from 5 to 15 thousand people were sent to concentration camps. According to the German historian and sociologist Rüdiger Lautmann, death rate amongst prisoners with pink triangle was highest and reached up to sixty percent (e.g. among political prisoners it was 41%)
People with a pink triangle falling into one of the lowest groups in the hierarchy of the camp social system: they were violently treated not only by guards and the administration, but also by other prisoners.
Lesbians were not systematically persecuted by the Nazis, because, according to the fascists, they did not pose a serious threat to society. Women could not be condemned on the 175th paragraph, but it is known that some of them went to concentration camps as "asocial", and wore black triangles.
Repressions against gays and lesbians in Nazi Germany are considered as one of the parts of the Holocaust. However, the law by which gays were condemned, existed for many years after the victory over Hitler.
A few decades later, a new generation of gays and lesbians began to use The pink triangle, a symbol to perpetuate the memory of the tragic past, the manifestation of the struggle for human rights and the expression of hope for a new era of freedom, openness, and pride.