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Sex and relationships

Sexual minorities

Sexual minorities
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Sexual orientation is an emotional attraction of one person to other people of a particular sex.

On June 17, 2011 UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution banning discrimination of the representatives of sexual minorities, that is discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. A special body is planned to be established in order to control respecting the rights of  sexual minorities all over the world. One question still remains to be answered, why the adoption of such a resolution happened only in the XXI century. And generally, why the development of our society is going on in such a way that there is an urgent necessity in the resolutions of the mentioned type?

The notions of “homosexualism” and “homosexuality” were first introduced by the Austrian-born novelist Karl-Maria Kertbeny. These notions implied sexual attraction of a person to other people of the same sex, and also the sexual connection among them.

However, the phenomenon of homosexualism was known already in ancient times. Some of the earliest written evidence of homosexualism existence dates back to the archaic era. We are speaking about the legislation of Athenian reformers such as Solon,  Draco and others, directed against homosexuality. It should be mentioned that in other parts of Greece (Boeotia) homosexual relationships were legally recognized at the same period of time. Homosexual relationships might have appeared in ancient Greece already at Cretan-Mycenaean Age. This may be testified by the myths which reflect both homosexualism and bisexualism, for example the liking of Olympian deities for youths (Apollo’s, Zeus’s, etc.).

Despite the fact that some Athenian laws still tried to protect the youths from men, homosexuality became rather wide-spread in an ancient Greek society. Cicero mentions, “It was a shame for Greek youths not to have male lovers”. Though, in all fairness it should be mentioned that some scholars believe that kind of love was purely “platonic”. Besides, it is important to admit the fact that in ancient Greece mature men having love affairs with youths, at the same time had normal families, wives and children, that is they were not homosexualists in the strictest sense.

Homosexuality is also represented by the same-sex love affairs among women. Lesbian love was called “Sapphism” after a Greek poetess Sappho who celebrated love among women.

With popularization of the main monotheistic religious beliefs, homosexuality condemned by them, took second place and disappeared as a mass phenomenon. However, despite being condemned by the church, homosexuality remained existing having entered its latent phase. By the way, it was the church that became the breeding-ground of homosexuality in the Middle Ages. Especially, if we look at the Renaissance period when a peculiar sexual revolution took place in Italy.

The strictest laws banning homosexuality could be found in catholic Spain, which is explained by the fact that during the period of Arabic reign on the territory of Spain homosexuality was regarded as an everyday occurrence. Consequently, Spain, an ardent defender of Catholicism, began to interpret homosexuality as the influence of a hostile religion – Islam. The punishment for same-sex affairs was capital. Pope Paul IV burnt homosexualists at the stake.

If in the beginning of the Middle Ages homosexuality was regarded as a religious fault, closer to the middle time period it was considered a legal offence. Negative attitude to same-sex relationships remained till the time of the French Revolution in 1789, when the revolutionaries proclaimed a person’s freedom to do whatever they wish. All the laws persecuting homosexuality were repealed. However, even in the XIX century homosexualits continued to be still burnt at the stake.

Prussian Prince Elector Frederick I also tried to mitigate the legislation concerning homosexualists. Though Prussia did not manage to legalize homosexuality as in France, Frederick substituted the capital punishment with a range of other punishments, the strictest of which was an exile.

In the XIX century such sciences as sociology and psychology begin studying the phenomenon of homosexuality. The scientists proved that a great number of homosexualists possessed the qualities from birth. That was the time when the first gay and lesbian rights activists appeared, among them, for example, a journalist Karl-Heinrich Ulrichs.

However, the improvements to the position of the representatives of sexual minorities were temporary and not in all countries. For example, already in the XX century homosexuality was regarded as an evil threatening all the system in the former USSR.

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, that in the former USSR from 1934 to the 1980s a thousand homosexualists were condemned every year. Women were referred to the psychiatrists. The Nazi regime persecuted homosexualists as well as communists, Jews and gypsies.

The liberalization of society began in the second half of the XX century. Till the end of the 1960s a lot of European countries had already cancelled criminal prosecution of homosexualists. But it was only in 1991 that WHO struck homosexuality off the list of mental disorders.

Finally, the long-expected resolution was adopted. Then what prevents people of a traditional sexual orientation from treating the representatives of sexual minorities with tolerance even nowadays? What makes otherwise normal people aggressive? Might it be the same thing that in the 1930s let the Nazi stir up the hatred on the basis of racial differences? 
Perhaps, it is time for us to learn our lesson from history and appreciate the right of every person for their own convictions, preferences and most of all the right to live their own lives as they consider best?

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DID YOU KNOW THAT ...

Among the first 15 Roman emperors Claudius only had sex with men. Such behavior is perceived as immoral, writers: loving women only Claudius himself became like a woman.

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