Most everyone can agree that LGBTQ+ people have faced persecution but this is often thought of as a relic of the past but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Even today with the progress we’ve made injustices still occur. In the U.S. gay people can be refused service or fired from their job for their sexual orientation in several states and there are still countries were being gay is punishable by death. Not to mention the severe mistreatment of transgender people that is so unfortunately common. It’s always important to have a reminder to how bad things can get because progress isn’t a linear line and society can regress. This isn’t a prefect list but hopefully it gets the point across.
SEE ALSO: 10 Crazy Attempts To Create A Real-Life Gaydar
It is fairly well known that Russia does not treat gay people well, especially predominantly Islamic Chechnya but it one thing to hear general statements; hearing testimony from the victims themselves is quite another. Maxim Lapunov was one such victim of Chechnya’s attack on LGBT people. Maxim was kidnapped in the street in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. He was held for twelve days and beaten severely with batons.
Maxim Lapunov is not the only one to be victimized by the Chechnya officials: hundreds of gay people are being imprisoned and abused; subjected to beatings and electric shocks. Maxim has brought his accusations to Russia’s investigative committee, but so far nothing has come of this.
In the 1960s, gay clubs were frequently subject to raids by the police, because sodomy was illegal (and still is in some states). Stonewall Inn was no different. On June 28, 1969 Stonewall Inn was raided by the police and this lead to six days of rioting. It seemed to all start when a woman being shoved into the police car yelled “Why don’t you guys do something!” A crowd had already started to gather at that point and that this was the tipping point.
Other gay bars in the area had also been raided like the Sewer and the Snake Pit, but what made Stonewall Inn so special and important was that it was a place for everyone. Young gay people who had been through out of their homes could panhandle and get the three dollars for the entrance fee and have a place to stay the night. It was also one of the few places welcome to drag queens, who were not always welcome even in gay clubs.
The UpStairs Lounge arson attack happened in New Orleans in June 24, 1973. It resulted in the deaths of 32 people; either by the fire itself or smoke inhalation. The UpStairs Lounge as you may have guessed was a gay bar and the arson attack was the deadliest attack on the gay community in the U.S. before the Orlando Nightclub shooting. Someone doused the staircase with lighter fluid and set it ablaze. This also blocked the escape route. Some people tried to escape out the windows but they were covered by bugler bars. Reverend Bill Larson got stuck in the window and burned to death. 29 people died in the lounge while the last 3 died of their injuries later.
The then chief detective of the New Orleans Police Department stated “Some thieves hung out there, and you know this was a queer bar.” Most other government officials simply ignored the attack all together. The arsonist was never caught and 3 of the victims were never identified.
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. It was first criminalized after the British occupation; but this is believed to have been worsened by the rise in Evangelical Christians traveling to Uganda to proselytize their religion. In 2009 when the Ugandan government was proposing the death penalty for homosexuality this was cheered on by Conservative Evangelicals like Andrew Wommack. Kipya Kaoma, a Zambian clergyman stated “But nobody was ever arrested or prosecuted based on those old laws. People turned a blind eye to it. Homosexuality was not a political issue.”
In 2010 a local tabloid called the Rolling Stone Uganda published the names and addresses of 100 LGBTQ+ people living in Uganda beneath the headline “Hang Them.” Several people on that list were murdered including prominent LGBT rights activist David Kato and many people on the list lost their jobs and their homes. Gay people are being forced to leave Uganda because it is simply too dangerous for them to stay.
Alan Turing was a mathematician, computer scientist, and cryptanalysis. He was instrumental during World War 2 because he helped decrypt enemy ciphers for the allies. He developed a machine called the ‘Bombe’ which was able to break the ciphers created by the German’s Enigma machine.
Alan Turing was also a gay man and would be subjected to cruel treatment by the very government he helped for it. When he was discovered to be gay in 1952, he was arrested, charged and convicted of obscenity, and chemically castrated. He was also no longer able to work for the government and lost his security clearance. He was harassed by police surveillance. In 1954 he died of cyanide poisoning. It was deemed a suicide but it is also possible that he accidentally ingested cyanide during an amateur chemistry experiment.
Alan Turing was posthumous pardoned, formally cancelling his criminal conviction in December 2013.
Iran is a country where homosexuality is not only illegal but punishable by death. Homosexuality was criminalized and made punishable by the death penalty in 1979 after the Islamic Revolution. In 2007 the President of Iran upheld this stating “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals, like in your country.” The current President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has persecuted homosexuals just the same as his predecessors. Just this year a man accused of homosexuality was executed in Iran while Europe and the UN turned a blind eye. The frequency and public nature of Iranian executions is eerily reflected in various scenes of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Pictured above are 16 and 18 year old Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni being executed publicly in 2005 for allegedly raping a 13 year old boy.
Oscar Wilde was a novelist, playwright, and poet. He lived in Ireland for most of his life and was born in Dublin on 16 October 1854. He was also gay. Oscar Wilde is just one example of how gay men were treated in the 1800s. Similarly to Alan Turning, he was treated like a criminal. Wilde was married to a woman named Constance Lloyd in 1884 and they had two sons but Wilde would have affairs with men throughout their marriage.
He began an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas in 1891. His lover’s father the Marquis of Queensberry accused Oscar Wilde of being a homosexual and Wilde sued him for libel. Wilde lost and the results were devastating. The details of his private life where revealed. He was outed, arrested and tried for gross indecency. He was sentenced to two years of hard labor. When Wilde was released his wife had already left him and taken their children and his reputation was ruined. He died of acute meningitis brought on by an ear infection in Paris on 30 November 1900 at the age of 46.
Brazil has never been a great place for gay people but under Bolsonaro things are looking to get even worse. Bolsonaro is an extremely conservative politician who publicly said “Yes, I’m homophobic – and very proud of it.” Bolsonaro was against Brazil’s decision in 2013 to allow gay people to marry, calling it “a blow to family unity and family values.” During an interview with Stephen Fry, Bolsonaro claimed that homosexual fundamentalists were brainwashing heterosexual children to become gays and lesbians to satisfy them sexually in the future. He also told Fry “Brazilian society doesn’t like homosexuals.”
Bolsonaro reportedly told journalists in Brasília “If you want to come here and have sex with a woman, go for your life, but we can’t let this place become known as a gay tourism paradise. Brazil can’t be a country of the gay world, of gay tourism. We have families.” He has also stated that he would prefer a dead son to a gay son.
Around 141 gay people have been killed in Brazil this year and 420 the year before, according to rights group Grupo Gay da Bahia. Brazil’s only openly gay politician Jean Wyllys had to flee the country after receiving numerous death threats after Bolonaro was elected.
As stated previously Russia is not a great place for gay people and this was by no means an exaggeration. In 2013 Russia systematically passed a law banning “homosexual propaganda“. This law states that promoting “homosexual behavior among minors” face fines of up to 5,000 roubles (£67; $85), while officials risk paying 10 times that amount. Businesses and schools can be fined up to 500,000 roubles. This puts gay people with families at risk as one gay activist in Russia named Masha Gessen stated “I contacted an adoption lawyer asking whether I had reason to worry that social services would go after my family and attempt to remove my oldest son, whom I adopted in 2000. The lawyer wrote back telling me to instruct my son to run if he is approached by strangers and concluding: “The answer to your question is at the airport.”
Many gay activists have protested this law and have been viciously attacked only to be arrested later by the same police officers who watched them being attacked. The law was later deemed discriminatory by the Council of Europe and Russia was ordered to pay damages totaling €43,000 plus costs and interest within three months.
The LGBT victims of the holocaust are often the first to be forgotten and this is entirely on purpose. Under the Third Reich, approximately 100,000 men were arrested for homosexuality, of which around 5,000-15,000 were sent to concentration camps. When the Allies were liberating these camps for the gay people in them this only meant being moved from one cell to another as homosexuality was still illegal in Germany.
Pierre Seel was one victim’s story that we know of. He was a gay man in France in 1941 when France was invaded by Germany and he was seized by the Gestapo. He was then sent to the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp. From the moment of his arrest he was tortured, he was sodomized with a wooden stick, and then forced to watch his friend being murdered by a pack of dogs. In the 1980s when Seel started speaking publicly about his experiences he was met with yet more hostility. Catherine Trautmann a French politician even refused to shake his hand at a commemorative event.