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In cultures influenced by Abrahamic religions , the law and the church established sodomy as a transgression against divine law or a crime against nature. The condemnation of anal sex between males, however, predates Christian belief.

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It was frequent in ancient Greece; "unnatural" can be traced back to Plato. Many historical figures, including Socrates , Lord Byron , Edward II , and Hadrian , [45] have had terms such as gay or bisexual applied to them; some scholars, such as Michel Foucault , have regarded this as risking the anachronistic introduction of a contemporary construction of sexuality foreign to their times, [46] though others challenge this. In social science, there has been a dispute between "essentialist" and "constructionist" views of homosexuality.

The debate divides those who believe that terms such as "gay" and "straight" refer to objective, culturally invariant properties of persons from those who believe that the experiences they name are artifacts of unique cultural and social processes. The first record of a possible homosexual couple in history is commonly regarded as Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum , an ancient Egyptian male couple, who lived around BCE. The pair are portrayed in a nose-kissing position, the most intimate pose in Egyptian art , surrounded by what appear to be their heirs.

The anthropologists Stephen Murray and Will Roscoe reported that women in Lesotho engaged in socially sanctioned "long term, erotic relationships" called motsoalle. Evans-Pritchard also recorded that male Azande warriors in the northern Congo routinely took on young male lovers between the ages of twelve and twenty, who helped with household tasks and participated in intercrural sex with their older husbands.

Among indigenous peoples of the Americas prior to European colonization, a common form of same-sex sexuality centered around the figure of the Two-Spirit individual. Typically, this individual was recognized early in life, given a choice by the parents to follow the path and, if the child accepted the role, raised in the appropriate manner, learning the customs of the gender it had chosen. Two-Spirit individuals were commonly shamans and were revered as having powers beyond those of ordinary shamans.

Their sexual life was with the ordinary tribe members of the same sex. The Spanish conquerors were horrified to discover sodomy openly practiced among native peoples, and attempted to crush it out by subjecting the berdaches as the Spanish called them under their rule to severe penalties, including public execution , burning and being torn to pieces by dogs.

Hardwick that a state could criminalize sodomy , but, in , overturned itself in Lawrence v. Texas and thereby legalized homosexual activity throughout the United States of America.

Same-sex marriage in the United States expanded from one state in to all fifty states in , through various state court rulings, state legislation, direct popular votes referendums and initiatives , and federal court rulings. In East Asia , same-sex love has been referred to since the earliest recorded history.

Homosexuality in China , known as the passions of the cut peach and various other euphemisms, has been recorded since approximately BCE. Homosexuality was mentioned in many famous works of Chinese literature. The instances of same-sex affection and sexual interactions described in the classical novel Dream of the Red Chamber seem as familiar to observers in the present as do equivalent stories of romances between heterosexual people during the same period.

Confucianism , being primarily a social and political philosophy, focused little on sexuality, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Opposition to homosexuality in China originates in the medieval Tang Dynasty — , attributed to the rising influence of Christian and Islamic values, [57] but did not become fully established until the Westernization efforts of the late Qing Dynasty and the Republic of China.

The Laws of Manu mentions a "third sex", members of which may engage in nontraditional gender expression and homosexual activities. The earliest Western documents in the form of literary works, art objects, and mythographic materials concerning same-sex relationships are derived from ancient Greece. In regard to male homosexuality, such documents depict an at times complex understanding in which relationships with women and relationships with adolescent boys could be a part of a normal man's love life.

Same-sex relationships were a social institution variously constructed over time and from one city to another. The formal practice, an erotic yet often restrained relationship between a free adult male and a free adolescent, was valued for its pedagogic benefits and as a means of population control, though occasionally blamed for causing disorder.

Plato praised its benefits in his early writings [60] but in his late works proposed its prohibition. Little is known of female homosexuality in antiquity. Sappho , born on the island of Lesbos , was included by later Greeks in the canonical list of nine lyric poets.

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The adjectives deriving from her name and place of birth Sapphic and Lesbian came to be applied to female homosexuality beginning in the 19th century. The narrators of many of her poems speak of infatuations and love sometimes requited, sometimes not for various females, but descriptions of physical acts between women are few and subject to debate. In Ancient Rome the young male body remained a focus of male sexual attention, but relationships were between older free men and slaves or freed youths who took the receptive role in sex. The Hellenophile emperor Hadrian is renowned for his relationship with Antinous , but the Christian emperor Theodosius I decreed a law on 6 August , condemning passive males to be burned at the stake.

Notwithstanding these regulations taxes on brothels with boys available for homosexual sex continued to be collected until the end of the reign of Anastasius I in Justinian , towards the end of his reign, expanded the proscription to the active partner as well in , warning that such conduct can lead to the destruction of cities through the "wrath of God".

During the Renaissance , wealthy cities in northern Italy — Florence and Venice in particular — were renowned for their widespread practice of same-sex love, engaged in by a considerable part of the male population and constructed along the classical pattern of Greece and Rome.


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From the second half of the 13th century, death was the punishment for male homosexuality in most of Europe. Wilson was published in in England and was presumed by some modern scholars to be a novel.

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The edition of John Cleland 's popular novel Fanny Hill includes a homosexual scene, but this was removed in its edition. Also in , the earliest extended and serious defense of homosexuality in English, Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplified , written by Thomas Cannon , was published, but was suppressed almost immediately.

Desire is an amatory Impulse of the inmost human Parts.


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  • Between and Karl Heinrich Ulrichs published a series of twelve tracts, which he collectively titled Research on the Riddle of Man-Manly Love. In , he became the first self-proclaimed homosexual person to speak out publicly in defense of homosexuality when he pleaded at the Congress of German Jurists in Munich for a resolution urging the repeal of anti-homosexual laws. Although medical texts like these written partly in Latin to obscure the sexual details were not widely read by the general public, they did lead to the rise of Magnus Hirschfeld 's Scientific-Humanitarian Committee , which campaigned from to against anti-sodomy laws in Germany , as well as a much more informal, unpublicized movement among British intellectuals and writers, led by such figures as Edward Carpenter and John Addington Symonds.

    Beginning in with Homogenic Love , Socialist activist and poet Edward Carpenter wrote a string of pro-homosexual articles and pamphlets, and "came out" in in his book My Days and Dreams. In , Elisar von Kupffer published an anthology of homosexual literature from antiquity to his own time, Lieblingminne und Freundesliebe in der Weltliteratur.

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    There are a handful of accounts by Arab travelers to Europe during the mids. Two of these travelers, Rifa'ah al-Tahtawi and Muhammad as-Saffar, show their surprise that the French sometimes deliberately mistranslated love poetry about a young boy, instead referring to a young female, to maintain their social norms and morals. Israel is considered the most tolerant country in the Middle East and Asia to homosexuals [74] with Tel Aviv being named "the gay capital of the Middle East", [75] and is considered one of the most gay friendly cities in the world.

    On the other hand, many governments in the Middle East often ignore, deny the existence of, or criminalize homosexuality. Homosexuality is illegal in almost all Muslim countries. However, the probable reason is that they keep their sexuality a secret for fear of government sanction or rejection by their families. In ancient Sumer , a set of priests known as gala worked in the temples of the goddess Inanna , where they performed elegies and lamentations.

    In ancient Assyria , homosexuality was present and common; it was also not prohibited, condemned, nor looked upon as immoral or disordered. Some religious texts contain prayers for divine blessings on homosexual relationships. In Greater Iran , homosexuality and homoerotic expressions were tolerated in numerous public places, from monasteries and seminaries to taverns, military camps, bathhouses, and coffee houses.

    In the early Safavid dynasty — , male houses of prostitution amrad khane were legally recognized and paid taxes. Some scholars argue that there are examples of homosexual love in ancient literature, like in the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh as well as in the Biblical story of David and Jonathan. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the relationship between the main protagonist Gilgamesh and the character Enkidu has been seen by some to be homosexual in nature.

    In many societies of Melanesia , especially in Papua New Guinea , same-sex relationships were an integral part of the culture until the middle of the s. The Etoro and Marind-anim for example, viewed heterosexuality as sinful and celebrated homosexuality instead.

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    In many traditional Melanesian cultures a prepubertal boy would be paired with an older adolescent who would become his mentor and who would "inseminate" him orally, anally, or topically, depending on the tribe over a number of years in order for the younger to also reach puberty. Many Melanesian societies, however, have become hostile towards same-sex relationships since the introduction of Christianity by European missionaries.

    The American Psychological Association , the American Psychiatric Association , and the National Association of Social Workers identify sexual orientation as "not merely a personal characteristic that can be defined in isolation. Rather, one's sexual orientation defines the universe of persons with whom one is likely to find the satisfying and fulfilling relationships": Sexual orientation is commonly discussed as a characteristic of the individual, like biological sex, gender identity, or age.

    This perspective is incomplete because sexual orientation is always defined in relational terms and necessarily involves relationships with other individuals. Sexual acts and romantic attractions are categorized as homosexual or heterosexual according to the biological sex of the individuals involved in them, relative to each other. Indeed, it is by acting—or desiring to act—with another person that individuals express their heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality. This includes actions as simple as holding hands with or kissing another person. Thus, sexual orientation is integrally linked to the intimate personal relationships that human beings form with others to meet their deeply felt needs for love, attachment, and intimacy.

    In addition to sexual behavior, these bonds encompass nonsexual physical affection between partners, shared goals and values, mutual support, and ongoing commitment. The Kinsey scale , also called the Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale, [93] attempts to describe a person's sexual history or episodes of his or her sexual activity at a given time. It uses a scale from 0, meaning exclusively heterosexual , to 6, meaning exclusively homosexual. In both the Male and Female volumes of the Kinsey Reports , an additional grade, listed as "X", has been interpreted by scholars to indicate asexuality.

    Often, sexual orientation and sexual orientation identity are not distinguished, which can impact accurately assessing sexual identity and whether or not sexual orientation is able to change; sexual orientation identity can change throughout an individual's life, and may or may not align with biological sex, sexual behavior or actual sexual orientation. People with a homosexual orientation can express their sexuality in a variety of ways, and may or may not express it in their behaviors.

    Coming out of the closet is a phrase referring to one's disclosure of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and is described and experienced variously as a psychological process or journey. The first phase is that of "knowing oneself", and the realization emerges that one is open to same-sex relations. The second phase involves one's decision to come out to others, e.

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