Monday, August 29, 2005

A brief history of gay movements (Part III of V)

Another tiring weekend for me. I had a really tiring cardio and butt workout. Even injured myself a little. Details later.

As such, I need time to recover. In the meantime, this is Part III of the series.

In the US, The Society for Human Rights founded in 1924 in Chicago becomes America's earliest known gay rights organization.

After World War II, many homosexual army personnel who were decommissioned, stayed at the big cities and did not go back to their respective home towns. This created a sudden surge of gay populations in big cities such as San Francisco and New York. This brought about an increase in repression from the state. Homosexuals were purged from state bureaucracies, crackdowns occurred frequently on gay meeting places, and homosexuals were depicted as threats to the nation's security.

However, the increased repression triggered increased opposition.

Founded in 1951, The Mattachine Society became the first national gay rights organization in US. It was formed by Harry Hay and Chuck Rowland, and is considered by many to be the founder of the gay rights movement. 4 years later in 1956, The Daughters of Bilitis, a pioneering national lesbian organization, was founded by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon.

In Europe, gay organizations were established first in Amsterdam, followed by Copenhagen, and subsequently in other major European countries.

Thus, homosexual activism was born...

In 1948, a prominent scientist and researcher, Alfred Kinsey, published his famous and controversial book, "Sexual Behavior of the Human Male". The Kinsey Scale of human sexuality tells us that a person may not be completely homosexual or heterosexual based on a 7-continuum scale. Kinsey's seven-point scale charted the gradations of orientation. This challenged the idea that any one point on the scale was `normal' and that homosexuality is pathological. Sexual variation was in fact, a fact of life.

In the 1950's, a new legal argument known as the privacy/morality argument emerged. In 1955, the American Law Institute, Moral Penal Code 1955, stated that consensual homosexual acts as matters of private morality should only concern spiritual authorities. This led to the first decriminalization of homosexual acts in Illinois in 1960.

A similar argument also began to hold footing in UK. Wolfenden Committee of UK 1957 stated that private morality should be outside legal control. This led to decriminalization of homosexual acts in England in 1967.

Though both important and landmark decisions, `Privacy' did not offer homosexuals equality, only limited space. Nonetheless, they cracked open the door in for subsequent breakthroughs in gay movements in the West.

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