The Gay History: East & South Europe

17th century ~ PORTUGAL: Gay and transvestite inns reported in Lisbon.

1948 ~ YUGOSLAVIA: A form of sworn brotherhood and sisterhood was common which “takes on some homosexual aspects”, and these pacts were celebrated in (rural) churches. (Tomasic, 1948)

1974 ~ AUSTRIA: Criminal Law Amending Act decriminalises homosexuality.

1983 ~ AUSTRIA: Vienna: Lesbian Centre and Social club founded.

1989 ~ YUGOSLAVIA: Lesbian magazine Lesbiska Sekcija published in Slovenian.

1990 ~ POLAND: Gay magazine Inaczej published.

1991 ~ CZECHOSLOVAKIA: International Lesbian & Gay association (Eastern & South East Europe) 5th Regional conference (April 19th-21st).

1993 ~ CYPRUS: European Court of Human Rights rules (1993) that Cyprian law prohibiting male homosexuality violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The law is ammended, decriminalising homosexuality in private between consenting adults over 18.

1994 ~ LATVIA: 1st Lesbian & Gay Week.

1995 ~ ALBANIA: Shoqata Gay Albania formed; Article 137 of the 1977 Penal Code repealled, legalising sex at 14.

1996 ~ MALTA: 1st Pride (June 29th-30th)

1996 ~ POLAND: 1st Lesbian Information and Counselling centre founded (OLA-Archiwum).

1997 ~ PORTUGAL: Portugese Assembly equalizes the age of consent at 16.
~ 1st lesbian and gay community centre opens in Lisbon.
~ AUSTRIA: Article 221, banning gay organisations and dissemination of positive information is repealled.
1997~ SAN MARINO: Homosexuality legalised.

1998 ~ ROMANIA: President Emil Constantinescu promises to pardon men imprisoned for consensual gay sex.

~ LATVIA: Age of consent equalised; also plans to offer refuge to gay people persecuted in other countries.

An in-breadth look at the presence of gay people around the world, throughout history.

The aim of this work is to show the prevalence and significance of gay people on our planet; in particular, to oppose the prevailing notion that homosexuality is a recent or regional phenomenon (a result of ‘foreign’ influences or a ‘modern permissive society’). As the evidence clearly indicates, homosexuality is – and always has been – an integral feature of human life and society.

In this work, I am concentrating on a broad represntation of as many countries, over as great a span of time as possible, so you won’t find any lengthy essays here. For some good, in-depth gay history sites, see the links page. Also, I have emphasised mostly the positive aspects of gay history and culture; those seeking details of the grimmer side of things are directed to other sources!

Where indigenous peoples are mentioned, it is in reference to cultures where homosexuality is an accepted part of that culture. Same-sex activity has been observed by many anthropologists in countless tribes around the world; this only reinforces the realisation that human sexuality is universally polymorphous. I have emphasised instances in which same-sex relationships or homosexual individuals occupy a clearly defined, equal (or superior) social niche. Of particular interest in this regard are the Native American gay shamans and the predominantly homosexual Polynesian cultures.

Many past and present cultures have socially instituted transvestism and transsexualism, but this is not always an indication of individual sexual orientation, so I have not included such references. Likewise with the many instances of ritualised pederasty; the majority of lesbian, gay and bisexual people (in the modern, ‘civilised’ world, at least) do not perceive this as being part of gay identity.

The omission of gay characters from world history is no more evident than in regard to lesbians. The notion that gay women are scarcer than gay men, or that their sexuality is somehow less ‘real’ than male sexuality, has much to do with the predominance of patriarchal societies, the status of women throughout history and modern homophobia. There is less information here regarding lesbians, although the references I have found will be a revelation to many; lesbianism is just as prevalent and widespread in world history as male homosexuality, if not always as prominent.

The word ‘gay’ is used throughout this site in reference to women and men who form erotic same-sex relationships.

I must apologise in advance for the blatant lumping together of many great nations in the same categories (and the total absence of others), but this reflects the amount of relevant information I have collected so far on each. As more information comes my way, no doubt some of these will warrant their own sections!

In regard to the development of gay culture, I have paid particular note to the foundation of national organisations, improvements in legislation, and cultural landmarks such as Pride marches and international ventures.

Every gay person on Earth, regardless of nationality, race or background, has a gay heritage not only in their own homeland but also as a member of this gay species and as a citizen of this gay planet.