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Gay History – March 16, 1680: New Hampshire Makes Gay Sex Punishable By Death

New Hampshire’s motto may be “Live Free or Die” but that wasn’t always the case.

March 16, 1680:

Legislators of New Hampshire pass the colony’s first capital laws, copied almost word for word from the Plymouth laws of 1671:

If any man lie with mankind as he lies with a woman; both of them have committed abomination; They both shall surely be put to death: unless one party were forced, or were under fourteen years of age. And all other Sodomitical filthiness shall be severely punished according to the nature of it.”

In the early Puritan colonies, the mere concept of homosexuality struck horror into the hearts of good, God-fearing men. Many thought that homosexuality was an impurity that could spread and eventually call down the fire and brimstone that was showered on Sodom and Gomorrah.

Although the laws demanded capital punishment as the penalty for adult homosexuality, many magistrates opted to hand down lighter sentences in most cases. In fact, there was only one recorded execution of a criminal of this sort. William Plaine was executed in New Haven in 1646 for “uncleane practices” of teaching other men and boys the joys of masturbation

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's well known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the 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 BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story, Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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2 thoughts on “Gay History – March 16, 1680: New Hampshire Makes Gay Sex Punishable By Death”

  1. Interesting. It is often not realized these laws against gays came well after the Middle Ages. Historians have looked at books from the Middle Ages to help priests in the confessional and found “sodomy” to be a relatively minor issue.

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