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Can Democracy Be Queer?: Male Homosexuality, Democratisation, and the Law in Postwar Germany

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 June 2022

Samuel Clowes Huneke*
Affiliation:
Department of History and Art History, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, 3G1, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA

Abstract

When Nazi officials surrendered to the Allied powers on 8 May 1945, gay German men hoped fervently that their suffering had come to an end. Ten years earlier, the fascist government had promulgated draconian new laws criminalising all forms of male same-sex behaviour. After the war, as Allied officials embarked on an extensive programme of democratic renewal in the occupied lands, gay men hoped that democratisation would mean the repeal of these laws. Yet, the new West Germany retained the Nazi-era laws until 1969, convicting over 50,000 men in those twenty years. Using petitions to government officials as well as essays in and letters to the editors of homophile magazines, this article examines how gay men in West Germany conceived of democratisation, asking what expectations they held for the new republic, how their views shifted as it proved hostile to queer citizens, and what this history means for the broader understanding of democratisation in the postwar world.

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Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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References

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