In the late 1950s and early 1960s, almost three decades after consensual sodomy was declared a crime in the USSR, voices began to speak out in favor of its decriminalization. This article traces the history of the ensuing debate on this issue, conducted between Soviet criminologists and legal academics in the period from 1965–75. Through a close reading of the related texts, I explore the evolution of the different positions put forward. These fall into two camps: on the one hand, legal scholars who, together with their graduate students, made the case for decriminalization, and on the other, criminologists affiliated with the Interior Ministry, who opposed their views. The article provides the first detailed historical account of this extraordinary discussion and contributes to expanding our scant knowledge on the history of homosexuality in the Soviet Union.
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