Chapter

Homosexuality in France from the Revolution to Vichy

in Living in Arcadia

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226389257
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226389288 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226389288.003.0002
Homosexuality in France from the Revolution to Vichy

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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In 1791 the Constituent Assembly of France promulgated a new penal code abolishing the criminalization of “sodomy.” Although same-sex relations between adults have never been illegal in France, at least since 1791, police surveillance of same-sex activity continued throughout the revolutionary period and after. Three Parisian police chiefs of the nineteenth century wrote memoirs that betray an obsession with the suspected connection between criminality and sexual deviancy: Louis Canler, Félix Carlier, and Gustave Macé. As the figure of the “invert” took shape in the medical literature, the growth of a mass circulation press amplified the threats posed by homosexuality to social order in the popular imagination. Popular conceptions of the dangers posed by “inverts” were shaped by the reporting of homosexual scandals. This article examines homosexuality in France in the years following the country's decriminalization of sodomy, from Belle Époque to the interwar period.

Keywords: decriminalization; sodomy; France; homosexuality; criminality; sexual deviancy; Belle Époque; inverts; interwar period; social order

Chapter.  7879 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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