| Historical background |
| Modern attitudes toward homosexuality have religious, legal, and medical underpinnings. Before the High Middle Ages, homosexual acts appear to have been tolerated or ignored by the Christian church throughout Europe. Beginning in the latter twelfth century, however, hostility toward homosexuality began to take root, and eventually spread throughout European religious and secular institutions. Condemnation of homosexual acts (and other nonprocreative sexual behavior) as "unnatural," which received official expression in the writings of Thomas Aquinas and others, became widespread and has continued through the present day (Boswell, 1980). [Bibliographic references are on a different web page] |
Religious teachings soon were incorporated into legal sanctions. Many of the early American colonies, for example, enacted stiff criminal penalties for sodomy, an umbrella term that encompassed a wide variety of sexual acts that were nonprocreative (including homosexual behavior), occurred outside of marriage (e.g., sex between a man and woman who were not married), or violated traditions (e.g., sex between husband and wife with the woman on top). The statutes often described such conduct only in Latin or with oblique phrases such as "wickedness not to be named"). In some places, such as the New Haven colony, male and female homosexual acts were punishable by death (e.g., Katz, 1976).
Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories... The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects, (p 639).
See and learn about the Kinsey Scale here.