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Gay Histoy in Russia
Transcript of Gay Histoy in Russia
In Medieval Russia, there was
no legislation against homosexuality
. It was
considered a sin
, but no one really paid any mind to it.
1934-1986: homosexuality criminalized and severely dealt with by prosecution, discrimination and silence.
Homosexuality was technically legal in the USSR until 1933 when it was criminalized by Stalin, it could be punished by up to 5 years of hard labor or prison.
In the mid-1930s thousands of gays were sent to Soviet camps, and the figure apparently remained steady throughout the years article 121 was in force. This article was established in 1933, it declared homosexuality a political crime against the Soviet state.
The fate of homosexuals in Soviet prisons and camps was tragic and brutal, and rape took place in every camp and prison.
In this time period
many writers novelted at the open of homosexual
love, especially between men
The first penalties for homosexual relations
were introduced in the
Russian army in 1716
by Peter the Great. Offenders were given
, and, in the case of same-gender rape,
; but those penalties existed only in military statutes.
In ancient Russia,
sexual relations between men were condemned by the church
, these acts were punished by excommunication.
For ordinary people, however,
a period of penance ranging from eight years to three years,
was enough to earn forgiveness for this sin.
In the 15th17th centuries
, male homosexual contacts
were not uncommon among the young
men of the nobility
: even Tsar Ivan IV (the Terrible) had close relations with young
noblemen, most notably Fedor Basmanov, who was called the “Tsar’s lover” by many
The 19th century
In the 19th century homosexuality remained wide spread
among artists, poets and civil servants.
, under Emperor Nicholas I,
the first criminal clause for homosexual contacts was introduced.
It gave the
penalty as exile
to Siberia. The clause was hardly ever used, however, since any application of such a penalty would have ended in a scandal, which was highly undesirable for noble society
After the Revolution:
After the revolution of 1905
ended literary censorship, gay literature started to appear
, allowing homosexuals to express their feelings in poetry and prose.
One notable example includes the semiautobiographical novel
“Wings” by Mikhail Kuzmin
, which contains the first detailed description of love between two young men.
The Soviet and post-Soviet policies toward homosexuals may be divided into five key periods:
1917-1933: decriminalization of homosexuality, relative tolerance, homosexuality officially concidered a disease.
Under Lenin,1922-1924, homosexuality was treated as a disease that needed to be cured and that attitude prevailed until well into the 90's. Many individuals who were accused of homosexuality were forcibly treated at psychiatric hospitals rather than imprisoned.
1987-1990: beginning of open public discussions of the status of homosexuality from a scientific and humanitarian point of view by professionals and journalists.
1990 - May 1993: gay men and lesbians themselves took up the cause, putting human rights in the forefront, there was a sharp politicization of the issue.
In the 1990s, public opinion against homosexuality began to soften.
June 1993, onwards: decriminalization of homosexuality; the homosexual underground begins to develop into a gay and lesbian subculture, with its own organizations, publications, and centers.
There was a certain liberalization of sexual life in Russia, which was reflected in a flourish of gay literature.
After decades of enduring persecution and intimidation in the old Soviet Union, homosexuals in Russia are emerging into the open for the first time, even though they continue to feel mistreated and threatened by hostile public attitudes and by old laws that remain on the books and by post-Soviet Russian Orthodox Church, which restlessly preaches against homosexuality.