Forgotten Gay History – September 8, 1292 AD: John de Wettre of Belgium Burned at the Stake for Sodomy

 

burned-at-the-stake-for-sodomy

On this date in 1292 in the Belgium city of Ghent, 29 year old knife maker John de Wettre was found with another man committing and act “detested by God”.

He was burned alive as punishment.

Byrne Fone, in his book “Homophobia” (2000):

In many parts of Europe at the end of the thirteenth century, then, sodomites, heretics, and other social and sexual deviants were demarcated from the rest of the population. Those who once were only sinners now were criminal; their behavior was not only sinful but antisocial, and thus appropriately punished by loss of rights, property, and life. In 1292 John de Wettre, a knifemaker, was executed for sodomy in Ghent, burned alive for engaging with another man in an act “detested by God.” This is the earliest known execution for that act. We don’t know whether the other man was a lover or a passing stranger, whether the act was habitual or unique. All that we can know about John de Wettre is that John’s execution, if it was the first, would not be the last

So the next time someone says to you that we have not been persecuted as others have, and have not dealt with oppression and fought as long as other to be accepted and equal.  Remind them of John de Wettre.  

That is his forgotten legacy to us.

Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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3 Responses

  1. jad says:

    And they say being gay is a choice but straight people keep making us and making us no matter how much we are persecuted.

  2. This article shows, in my opinion at least, that how backward, how mentally distorted the people of those countries in fact were homosexuality and homosexuals are harassed, tortured, killed, and denied equal rights!

    It shows that those countries still live in the 13th century, and though they claim to be able to be belonging to the 21st century they inf act are socially still living in the centuries were idiots ruled, were values of a people’s life were minimal to non-existent, and in 2013 these people show no sign of any development, neither socially nor mentally!

    A lot of these countries receive so-called development help and assistance,, from as well the United Nations as individual countries, some received trillions of dollars and euros in help, but any sign of improvement of social standards and behavior is failing and lacking!

    Isn’t it time to end that flow of dollars and euros to those countries that effectively are choosing and have chosen to remain living in the past?

    I think it is time to attach conditions to help and assistance, demands that are enforced and endorsed, and demands that mean that if there is no improvement of social standards for all the help and assistance will be ended, regardless of the possible consequences!

    I know, starvation is a huge problem, illnesses too, especially in countries were the leaders buy weapons on the international weapons market, for trillions a year, were leaders regard their population as gun-meat only, to start wars for diamonds, were leaders are driving around in the msot expensive cars imaginable, were corruption is at the highest levels common practice, and were women and homosexuals are regarded as lowlifes…..
    I feel that though we ourselves have a path to go to full equality, must put a stop to supporting governments and administrations that deny their populations at least the most basic human rights!

    I propose to end all!(!) social, financial other help and assistance to countries were human rights are denied to people who have a right to those rights!

  3. It is interesting to speculate just why this change by the Roman Cathoholic (sic)Church which started in the 1200s occurred? Was it the increased notice of same sex relationships & behavior among the growing monastic orders & Crusader military orders by the Papacy whose control of the legitimacy of ‘marriage’ also controlled inheritance of both power (kingship) & domain (terrirtory); or some other factor?
    Imho, once again both society, religion, and behavior collided in a crux of change after millenniums of unlegislated ( or even encouraged) same sex behavior at some point in history (1150-1250ACE) where those members who were the controlling hegemony of Western culture decided same sex behavior was not congruent with their personal political & social future in terms of maintaining their political order, authority, and lineage into the future.

What do you think?