On this day April 27, 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450, banning anyone identified as threats to national security including those with criminal records, alcoholics, and “sex perverts”–to be excluded or terminated from federal employment.. The Order lists homosexuals as security risks, along with alcoholics and neurotics.
This was one of Eisenhower’s first official duties after being elected.
This Executive Order was tied to the McCarthy era Red Scare, the search for Communists who had supposedly infiltrated American society. The purging of homosexuals and lesbians from the federal government became known as the Lavender Scare, thousands and thousands of people were fired from their jobs simply because of their sexual orientation
The rational was that “perverts” — the word The New York Times freely used as a synonym for homosexuals — were a threat to the security of the country because their immoral lifestyle left them susceptible to blackmail by foreign agents, who would presumably induce them to reveal sensitive government information in exchange for avoiding exposure.
The anti-gay frenzy ignited by the government did far more than just deprive these men and women of jobs; it drove many to suicide and cemented homophobic stereotypes that persisted for decades in the American consciousness
Ironically on the same date April 27, nineteen years later in 1972 testifying before Congress, FBI Director and notorious closet case J. Edgar Hoover assured the House Appropriations Committee that there are no gay activists in the Bureau, saying “We don’t allow any types of activists in the FBI, gay or otherwise. I ask not for average personnel but for those above average in character, education, and personal appearance.”
Many people don’t realize it but the raids on gay bars by the New York City Police Department didn’t end with the Stonewall riots in the summer of 1969. In fact the raids continued, virtually uninterrupted with some continuing on into the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
On March 8th. 1970 at about 5:00 am in the morning the NYPD raided the Snake Pit, an after-hours bar at 211 West 10th. Street in Greenwich Village. Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine (the same Seymour Pine in charge of the raids upon the Stonewall Inn) showed up with a fleet of police wagons, and arrested all 167 customers, staff, and owners and took them to the station house, which violated police policy.
One patron, Diego Vinales, panicked. An immigrant from Argentina who was in the country illegally, he feared what would happen to him in the police station and tried to escape by jumping out a second story window. He landed on a fence below, its 14-inch spikes piercing his leg and pelvis. He was not only critically wounded, but was also charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. As paramedics attended to Vinales, a cop told a fireman, “You don’t have to hurry, he’s dead, and if he’s not, he’s not going to live long,”
“You don’t have to hurry, he’s dead, and if he’s not, he’s not going to live long.”
Viñales was eventually cut loose and taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital. he survived after spending weeks in the hospital and when released moved back to Argentina.
The Gay Activist Alliance immediately organized a protest for later that night. A pamphlet publicizing the protest read, “Any way you look at it, Diego Vinales was pushed. We are all being pushed. A march on the Sixth Precinct will take place tonight, March 8, at 9 pm, gathering at Sheridan Square. Anyone who calls himself a human being, who has the guts to stand up to this horror, join us.”
A silent vigil will occur immediately following the demonstration.” Nearly 500 people showed up for an angry and loud but peaceful protest protest to the precinct station on Charles Street, followed by a vigil at St. Vincent’s hospital where Vinales lay in critical condition.
Rep. Edward Koch, who would later become the Mayor of NYC accused NYPD Commissioner Howard Leary of green-lighting the resumption of raids, harassment, and illegal arrests against the gay community. Both Leary and Seymour Pine was reassigned to the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.
The gay community, which had already witnessed a burst of organizing activity since the Stonewall uprising nine months earlier, became even more politically and socially active, setting the stage for the first Christopher Street Pride March 3 months later on the first anniversary of Stonewall Riots.
On February 5th, 1981 more than 200 plainclothes police officers raided four Toronto bathhouses leading to the largest mass arrest since the October Crisisten years earlier. In total, 289 gay men were charged with being “found-ins of a bawdyhouse” and two were charged with “buggery”.
Men speaking out in the aftermath of the raids described severe misconduct on the part of the police. Some reported being photographed naked, others said police took down their employers’ names and phone numbers and several men stated that police had referred to them as “queers, faggots and fairies”. Moreover, one man reported that several officers used sledgehammers and crowbars with abandon, smashing windows and breaking down doors. This last fact is corroborated by the $38,000 in damages reported by the four bathhouses after the raid (nearly $175,000 in 2020 dollars). In contrast, the police report stated that the officers behaved in a “professional manner.”
A documentary on the bathhouse raids and the ensuing protests quotes Duncan McLaren, one of the men who was charged as a found-in at the Barracks bathhouse.
McLaren describes his victimization by the police:
“We ended up in the shower room and we were all told to strip… But I think one of the most chilling things was… one of the cops said, looking at all the showers and the pipes going into the shower room; he said ‘Gee, it’s too bad we can’t hook this up to gas’.
The following evening, over 3000 members and supporters of Toronto’s gay community united to demonstrate against these raids. A second protest was held on Feb. 20 at Queen’s Park, with over 4000 people gathering to call for increased rights and protection for gays and lesbians in Canada. In the aftermath of the raids, the Toronto City Council commissioned an investigation into community relations between the police and the gay community.
The event marked a major turning point in the history of the gay and lesbian community in Canada; the raids and their aftermath are today widely considered to be the Canadian equivalent of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. Mass protests and rallies were held denouncing the incident. These evolved into Toronto’s current Pride Week, which is now one of the world’s largest gay pride festivals.
Almost ALL the charges against those arrested were later dropped in court.
In June of 2016 speaking before Toronto Mayor John Tory and leaders within the gay community Toronto police chief Mark Saunders issued a long overdue apology for the bathhouse raids of 1981.
“The 35th anniversary of the 1981 raids is a time when the Toronto Police service expresses its regret for those very actions,” and called the raids “one of the largest mass arrests in Canadian history” and acknowledged the “destructiveness” of the police action.
“It is also an occasion to acknowledge the lessons learned about the risks of treating any part of Toronto’s many communities as not fully a part of society.”
After writing in different forms throughout the 1880’s, Oscar Wilde became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890’s. Today he is mostly remembered for his keen wit, his only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death.
At the height of his fame and success, while his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), was still on stage in London, Wilde had the Marquess of Queensberry prosecuted for libel. The Marquess was the father of Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred Douglas who was regarded at the time as a “mean spirited mincing queen intent on self-destruction” and later in life, tried to distance himself from Wilde’s name.
The charge against Wilde carried a penalty of up to two years in prison.
Queensberry was arrested with the charge carrying a possible sentence of up to two years in prison. Under the 1843 Libel Act, Queensberry could avoid conviction for libel only by demonstrating that his accusation was in fact true, and furthermore that there was some “public benefit” to having made the accusation openly. Queensberry’s lawyers thus hired private detectives to find evidence of Wilde’s homosexual liaisons. They decided on a strategy of portraying Wilde as a depraved older man who habitually enticed naïve youths into a life of vicious homosexuality to demonstrate that there was some public interest in having made the accusation openly
The trial caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and trial for gross indecency with other men. After two more trials he was convicted and imprisoned for two years’ hard labour. In 1897, in prison, he wrote De Profundis, which was published in 1905, a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. Upon his release he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life.
Oscar Wilde died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six.
1929: The Reichstag Committee votes to repeal the notorious Paragraph 175.
But in the end the Nazis’ rise to power prevents it from being removed from the books and they in turn use it as the tool to persecute hundreds of thousands of gay, lesbian and transgender German citizens which they beat, torture and kill, sending many to concentration camps from which they will never return.
Paragraph 175 made homosexual acts between males a crime, and in early revisions the provision also criminalized bestiality as well as forms of prostitution and underage sexual abuse. All in all, around 140,000 men were convicted under the law.
While the Nazi persecution of homosexuals is reasonably well-known today, far less attention had been given to the continuation of this persecution in post-war Germany.
In 1945, after the concentration camps were liberated, some homosexual prisoners were recalled to custody to serve out their two-year sentence under Paragraph 175.
In 1950, East Germany abolished Nazi amendments to Paragraph 175, whereas West Germany kept them and even had them confirmed by its Constitutional Court.
About 100,000 men were implicated in legal proceedings from 1945 to 1969, and about 50,000 were convicted. Some individuals accused under Paragraph 175 committed suicide.
In 1969, the West Germany government eased Paragraph 175 by providing for an age of consent of 21. The age of consent was lowered to 18 in 1973. Finally the paragraph was repealed and the age of consent lowered to 14, in 1994.
East Germany had already reformed its more lenient version of the paragraph in 1968, and repealed it in 1988.
On this day in 1895, British playwright Oscar Wilde was dining at the Albermarle Club in London when the Marquess of Queensbury left a calling card with the porter. It read, “To Oscar Wilde posing as a sodomoite.” The misspelling may have been the product of Queensbury’s rage over the relationship between Wilde and his son, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas.
In the summer of 1891, Oscar met Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas, the third son of the Marquis of Queensberry. Bosie was well acquainted with Oscar’s novel “Dorian Gray” and was an undergraduate at Oxford. They soon became lovers.
Queensbury had ferocious arguments with his son, trying to get him to stop seeing Wilde, but Bosie refused. Queensbury even threatened to go public with what he knew, but Bosie refused to back down. So on February 18, 1895, Queensbury followed through on his threat.
This action led to a long string of events which eventually led to Wilde’s disgrace, imprisonment, exile in France, and early death. Perhaps all that could have been avoided if Wilde had decided not to sue Queensbury for libel. His friends advised him against it, but he may have felt he had little choice. Having been called out publicly like that, declining to sue might be taken as an admission of guilt. Unfortunately, Wilde’s libel case collapsed when Queensbury’s lawyer asked whether he had ever kissed Walter Grainger in greeting. “Oh, dear no,” Wilde replied, “He was a peculiarly plain boy. He was unfortunately extremely ugly. I pitied him for it.”
Queensbury’s lawyer pounced on Wilde’s admission that attraction was the reason he didn’t kiss him. In short order, Wilde lost the case, and was charged with gross indecency. Wilde’s first criminal trial ended in a hung jury but the second one resulted in Wilde’s conviction and sentence to two years at hard labor.
Wilde fled England and spent the last three years of his life wandering Europe, staying with friends and living in cheap hotels. Sadly, he was unable to rekindle his creative fires. When a recurrent ear infection became serious several years later, meningitis set in.
Oscar Wilde despite his fame died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six on November 30, 1900.
The FBI has released it’s annual report on hate crimes showing that, broadly, hate crimes rose 2.7 percent in 2019 . While crimes targeting people for their sexual orientation ticked up only slightly it shows a higher percentage of hate crimes were perpetrated against gay men for the third straight year raising from 57.8% in 2017 to 61.8% in 2019.
Hate crimes against lesbians, bisexual, and transgender individuals remained unchanged.
Of the 1,429 victims targeted due to sexual-orientation bias:
61.8 percent were victims of crimes motivated by offenders’ anti-gay (male) bias. 25.0 percent were victims of anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (mixed group) bias. 10.0 percent were victims of anti-lesbian bias. 1.9 percent were victims of anti-bisexual bias. 1.3 percent were victims of anti-heterosexual bias.
Gender-identity bias (See Table 1.) Of the 189 victims of gender-identity bias: 160 were victims of anti-transgender bias. 29 were victims of anti-gender non-conforming bias
A bigoted church in Tennessee is denying a dying man’s request to host his funeral because his son is gay.
Jessie Goodman’s father is gravely ill and expected not to recover. Jessie tried to arrange his father’s funeral at Lees Chapel Baptist Church[FB link} in Sweetwater, Tennessee as per his father’s request. His father’s second dying request was that Jessie sing “The Anchor Holds” at the funeral.
But when Jessie, who is engaged to Brandon Smitty, approached the church about the service, Pastor Jay Scruggs and several members of the church told him neither he nor his fiancé could be involved in the funeral because they are gay.
Goodman was told the funeral could be held at the church if Jessie would attend alone, and not be a part of the service at all. If his fiancé showed up, he would be asked to leave.
The father, whose name is being withheld at the family’s request, has been told that his services will not be held at his own church.
“He did know that his funeral wouldn’t happen there,” said Goodman. “And he had a very hurt look on his face when we told him that.“
Tennessee’s News 9 reached out to Lees Chapel Baptist Church , but Pastor Jay Scruggs refused to comment saying he would only speak to the press “after Jessie’s father is in the grave.
15 people, including five women, and two gay men were punished with public caning Friday for violating Sharia law in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province.
Two men accused of being gay received 87 lashes each for gay sex, while nine others were sentenced up to 26 lashes for adultery. Four people, one of whom is female, were lashed 27 times for being drunk.
In video of the punishment seen by CNN, people can be heard jeering as the detainees, who are wearing white, traditional koko shirts, are brought up to the scaffold in front of the mosque.
Others took cellphone video of the punishment being administered by a hooded man while a voice counts the strokes over a loudspeaker. At one point a uniformed official appears to instruct the masked whipper where to land the blow.
The two men whipped for homosexuality Friday aren’t the first — last May two men were lashed 83 times for the same offense.
Muhammad Hidayat, the Sharia police chief, said that homosexuality was widely reviled in the deeply religious state, and that his police force would carry out the prosecution of violations of Sharia equally, without favoring officials.
The two men, who are both in their twenties, met in early September and moved into a rented apartment in Tashkent.
Police told media last week that they conducted intrusive, forensic medical examinations to confirm that one of the men had allegedly engaged in repeated sexual intercourse. Consensual sex between men is punishable in Uzbekistan by up to three years in prison.
Potential prosecution is only the least of what gay people in Uzbekistan are liable to face in their daily life. Intimidation — up to and including brutal physical assault — is commonplace.
President Islam Karimov, who remarked in February 2016 that same-sex relationships were a “vile phenomenon of Western culture.”
“If a man lives with a man, or a woman with a women, I think that something there isn’t quite right, or some change has happened,” Karimov said.
International rights activists have appealed with the Uzbek government to repeal Article 120 of the criminal code, which criminalizes sexual relations between men.
“It is unacceptable to persecute people for the fact that they consensually engage in same-sex relations. Every person is free to determine their own relations. This incident is nothing but a demonstrative act of discrimination toward the LGBT community and reflects the policies of the current regime,” said Nadezhda Atayeva, president of the Paris-based Association for Human Rights in Central Asia.
It has been reported that officials in Azerbaijan and Tajikistan authorities both areas of the former Soviet Union have sought to impress their conservative credentials by persecuting the LGBT community. Both countries have recently drawn up registries of people they suspected of belonging to their country’s gay and lesbian communities as part of a purported efforts to promote sexual health and moral behavior.