1 March 2011 – Fridae
Modern gay rights movement born in 19th century Germany, scholar says
by News Editor
Germans in the 19th century "invented" the modern gay rights movement and modern conceptions of homosexuality can be traced to an anti-sodomy law, a Maryland historian Same-sex erotic relationships are as old as humanity, but our modern understanding of what it means to be homosexual – and the earliest gay rights movement – started in nineteenth-century Germany, according to an article by historian Robert Beachy from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, US.
The article, The German Invention of Homosexuality, which is published in a recent issue of The Journal of Modern History, summarises his forthcoming book, Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity, which is due out next year. According to Beachy, modern conceptions of homosexuality began, ironically, with an anti-sodomy law. When the German empire was unified in 1871, the Imperial Criminal Code included a law prohibiting sexual penetration of one man by another. Questions about what types of activity should fall under the law spurred a sustained public inquiry into the nature of same-sex eroticism and sexuality in general.
"As such, [the law] created the all-important context and stimulant for the evolution of the world’s most expansive science of homosexuality," Beachy writes. And from that science emerged key components of the modern view of homosexuality, including "the understanding of erotic same-sex attraction as a fundamental element of the individual’s biological or psychological makeup," Beachy explains.
This new view of same-sex love was pioneered by German doctors who published early case studies of homosexuals in the 1850s. German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing released the first edition of his hugely influential Psychopathia Sexualis in 1886, which included multiple case studies of homosexuals that supported this new position. Through his work, Krafft-Ebing became a vocal opponent of the German anti-sodomy law, stating that homosexuality "should not be viewed as a psychic depravity or even sickness."
"Down with §175". Since 1973 the gay movement had openly been demanding the deletion of Paragraph 175. This 1973 poster uses the new left icon of a raised fist and calls on the reader to fight against discrimination in the family, the workplace, and in housing. The law, which was a provision of the German Criminal Code from 15 May 1871 to 10 March 1994, made homosexual acts between males a crime, and in early revisions the provision also criminalized bestiality. All in all, around 140,000 men were convicted under the law. — Wikipedia: Paragraph 175
A remarkably free German press enabled these ideas to spread outside the scientific literature into popular books and encyclopedias, Beachy says. "The encyclopedia entries suggested directly or implicitly that same-sex eroticism was a naturally occurring if uncommon phenomenon that affected a small percentage of the general population," he writes. "The love that dared not speak its name, as Oscar Wilde put it, had many names, at least in German." It was also during this time that world’s first political organization advocating gay rights, the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee (Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee, or WhK), was formed. The WhK undertook a massive effort to reform the anti-sodomy law, mailing "enlightenment brochures" to thousands of politicians, religious leaders, doctors, and teachers and collecting thousands of signatures on petitions opposing the law.
The movement ultimately failed to dislodge the law, and German scientific inquiry into sexuality came to an abrupt end with the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s. Nevertheless, Beachy argues, it was that law – and the inquiry and activism it inspired – that helped the modern understanding of homosexuality to take root.
Press release from University of Chicago Press Journalsargues.
31 May 2011 – PinkNews
New memorial to gay holocaust victims to be built in Munich
by Christopher Brocklebank
The German city of Munich, where the Nazis raided gay bars in the early days of the Third Reich, is to have a new memorial dedicated to the gay and lesbian victims of the holocaust. The location of the memorial is significant, as on 20 October 1934, the Nazis undertook a raid on the city’s gay bars. It was one of the first such incidents in what would become a full-scale systematic persecution of gay people under Hitler’s rule. The memorial will form part of a new pedestrian development in the center of Munich and will be placed at the crossroads of Oberanger and Dultstrasse outside what was the Scwharzfischer (The Black Fisherman), one of the city’s most popular gay bars in the 1930s.
It is estimated that more than 50,000 gay people were eventually arrested. The majority were men, although the Third Reich did also arrest and imprison lesbians, contrary to an earlier belief they were spared. Many of those arrested were interned in concentration camps, though the true number of how many met that fate will probably never be known. Gay men were forced to wear pink triangles, lesbians black triangles. Many gay people who survived the camps were re-imprisoned, as homosexuality remained criminalised. Paragraph 175 – that which criminalised homosexuality in Germany – remained in effect until 1969
The man behind the monument is Thomas Niederbuhl, a Councillor for the Rosa List Party. His project has broad political support from both parties currently in power in Munich. However, Richard Quaas, spokesman for the opposition party, the Christian Democrats said: “Until now, there was a consensus not to establish differentiation of victims on monuments or monuments. Other groups of victims of Nazism have no specific memorial in the public arena in Munich.” It was not until 1995, after a decade of campaigning, that gay men and lesbians were given a memorial in recognition of their suffering under the Nazis – a pink triangle plaque at the Dachau Memorial Museum. A memorial in Berlin was unveiled in 2008.
August 04, 2011 – On Top Magazine
Rudolf Brazda, Last Gay Nazi Death Camp Survivor, Dies At 98
by On Top Magazine Staff
Rudolf Brazda, the last known gay Nazi death camp survivor, died at 98 in France on Wednesday, the AFP reported. Brazda died at a hospital in Bantzenheim, France in his sleep, Philippe Couillet, a friend and associate of Brazda, told the European news service. At the age of 29, Brazda was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp in August 1942. He remained in the camp until 1945, when the camp was liberated by allied troops.
Being gay was a crime under Nazi Germany’s laws, and tens of thousands of people were convicted and sent to concentration camps. Prisoners had to wear a downward-pointing pink triangle on their jackets that identified them as gay or lesbian. The pink triangle – which was originally intended as a badge of shame – has since been turned upside down and reclaimed as a symbol of gay pride.
Brazda moved to Alsace after the war and lived there the remainder of his life. His partner of over 30 years, Edi, died in 2003. In April, the French government awarded Brazda the Legion of Honor. He is expected to be buried next Monday in Mulhouse, France.
September 19, 2011 – On Top Magazine
Berlin’s Gay Mayor Klaus Wowereit Elected To Third Term
By On Top Magazine Staff
Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, an openly gay man, won a third term on Sunday. The Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD), of which Wowereit is a member, held on to power during the regional elections in Berlin. However, the party’s coalition partner, the socialist Left Party, has been voted out. A likely partner is the Greens.
Wowereit was first elected mayor of Germany’s largest city in 2001. He came out gay during a convention of the Berlin SPD. He received thunderous applause when he said: “I’m gay, and that is good the way it is.” The 57-year-old Wowereit has said he came out to thwart the plans of the German tabloids which were already “on the right track.”
Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe is also gay and first elected in 2001. Wowereit’s strong finish has the media speculating that he could succeed German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2013. “It is easy to underestimate Klaus Wowereit,” the Financial Times Deutschland wrote. “He is often discounted as a mayor who prefers partying to governing … and as a tired state politician without greater ambitions. Yet he has accomplished something that not many SPD politicians can lay claim to: He has managed to attract a majority for the third time in a row. It is now time for the SPD to ask whether Klaus Wowereit might not make a good candidate for chancellor.”
Wowereit and neurosurgeon Jorn Kubicki have been in a relationship since 1993.