The USSR and Homosexuality Part I (Article 121)

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Author’s Note:  As a Marxist-Leninist who supports Joseph Stalin as a good and great leader of the Soviet Union, I must declare from the start, that I view the Soviet Union as one of the most progressive regimes humanity has ever produced, and considering the objective facts of history, I understand that the West (through the Cold War) has deliberately distorted not only the history of the Soviet Union, but has deliberately attacked the otherwise good reputation of Joseph Stalin – the man who defeated Hitlerism, and the Communist leader the West most feared due to its own greed-orientated paranoia. The Trotskyite (and government-led lies) perpetuated by Western academia (and its State media) can produce no authentic academic references in the Russian language, to support its bizarre notions against the USSR – simply because no such academic references exist in the Soviet Archives.  Of course, as with any leftwing progressive, I fully support LGBTQ Rights, and am probably one of a handful of Communists who has taken the trouble to march in London’s Gay Pride Parade. I originally published this article on the 19.3,2015 (see full text below – Appendix I), but since that time, more reliable academic evidence has come to light, that has allowed me to historically contextualise this issue far more thoroughly (with the reconstituted article appearing below).  Initially, my research began with Article 121 of the RSFSR Criminal Code, and its apparent association between male homosexuality and the odious crime of paedophilia (a logical assumption made from an analysis of the wording – albeit in English translation).  I mistakenly felt at the time that the entirety of the thinking of the USSR was dialectically deficient in this area, and that this notion served as the basis of my initial investigation (although, of course, it is clear that old Czarist notions and Christian derived prejudices were present in early Soviet modes of thought as expressed by certain soviet ideologues).  I then read, (after the first draft of this essay was published), a very interesting biography of Lenin compiled by Tamas Krausz, within which he asserts that Lenin deliberately ‘decriminalised’ homosexuality, and that Stalin later ‘criminalised’ it.  I must say that after reading the Collected Works of both men, I have never encountered any written texts (by either of these leaders) that specifically addressed or considered the subject of ‘homosexuality’.  This fact alone sheds doubt on the assumption of Krausz (which he presents an unquestioned ‘fact’). Krausz seems to be perpetuating a Trotskyite demonisation of Stalin, by protecting an equally Trotskyite distortion of history upon Lenin (i.e. Lenin must be ‘good’ for Stalin to be ‘evil’ etc).  I was able to come to this conclusion, when I recently read the excellent article entitled ‘Homosexuality in the USSR’ (linked below) written by Alfonso Casal (and published on the Stalin Society of North America – SSNA – in April, 2015).  This article is logical, historically accurate, and dialectically correct.  Homosexuality is a complex affair, not only within Soviet history, but also throughout the world.  Lenin freed the working class (including gay people, but not exclusively so) from Czarist oppression, and Stalin furthered this freedom through the legal reforms that were initiated during his leadership of the USSR.  ACW 28.12.2016

The USSR and Homosexuality Part II (Czarist Article 995)

The USSR and Homosexuality Part III (RSFSR Article 154a)

The Soviet law text entitled ‘Criminal Code of the RSFSR’, (see Chapter Four – Crimes Against the Life, Health, Freedom, and Dignity of the Person’), contains Article 121, which reads (in full) as follows:

‘Pederasty

Sexual relations of a man with a man (pederasty),

Shall be punished by deprivation of freedom for a term of up to five years.

Pederasty committed with the application of physical force, or threats, or with respect to a minor, or with taking advantage of the dependent position of the victim,

Shall be punished by deprivation of freedom for a term of up to eight years.’

(Butler, WE, Translator & Editor, Basic Documents on the Soviet Legal System, Oceana Publications, 1983, Page 344)

The choice of the term ‘pederasty’ is curious, as it derives from the origin Greek ‘paederasty’, which literally translates as ‘love of boys’, and refers to the ancient Greek cultural practice of sexual relations between mature men and adolescent males. However, it also carries the implied connotation that the practice of ‘homosexuality’, is in fact the practice of ‘child abuse’, with the former being clearly conflated with the latter, despite the fact that Article 121 appears to define ‘pederasty’ as the performance of a sexual act between one man and another. In reality, Pederasty is generally defined as the committing of a homosexual act by an older man, upon a much younger male.  When I was researching this article, I came across the following quote which purports to set what it implies is the historicity of Lenin’s apparent ‘pro-gay’ and Stalin’s alleged ‘anti-gay’ stance:

‘At the same time Lenin stood up for freedom of lifestyle, apparent from the fact that a decree signed by him in Soviet Russia was the first in the world to end the criminality of homosexuality.  Chicherin, the commissar for foreign affairs, did not make a secret of the fact that he loved men, and many others did not hide their sexual orientation either.  It is another matter that under Stalin, as of March 1934, homosexuality came to be considered a medical disorder and an offense.’

(Krausz, Tamas, Reconstructing Lenin, an Intellectual Biography, Chapter 1 – Who Was Lenin – Page 71)

The footnote (numbered 199) accompanying this paragraph reads in part:

‘Soviet law proclaims the absolute non-interference of the state in any matters relating to the sexes, until no one suffers damages, and no one’s rights are infringed.’ Grigory Batkis 1925.

Tamas Krausz creates a hard-hitting paragraph with only the scantiest of references, and appears to be following an anti-Stalinist Cold War agenda (formulated within the Western imagination).  He does not provide any relevant academically sound reference for this quote, and therefore fails to adequately define his terms, and legitimately make his point.  Where is the evidence that Lenin ‘decriminalised’ homosexuality?  Where is the evidence that Lenin was interested in the subject of homosexuality at all?  Where is this ‘decree’ that Lenin signed ending discrimination against homosexuals?  What happened in March 1934?  Where is the evidence that Stalin took an interest in the subject of homosexuality?  Where is the proof that Stalin considered homosexuality to be an abhorrent medical condition?  The narrative Krausz creates suggests that Lenin allowed for homosexuality, whilst Stalin rejected it – both of these stances appear historically and academically incorrect.  Lenin did abolish the old Czarist regime and its entire body of law, that is true.  The Czarist feudalistic law did contain openly hostile laws outlawing homosexuality (possibly influenced by the Russian Orthodox Church), and when these laws were abolished, the anti-homosexual laws were also abolished.  This does not mean, however, that Lenin deliberately ‘decriminalised’ homosexuality, but rather that the decriminalisation of homosexuality was entirely incidental to the abolition of the old order.  Furthermore, as Alfonso Casal points-out in his excellent article entitled:

Homosexuality in the USSR – By Alfonso Casal

The old anti-homosexual laws were retained in the Islamic Republics, and Christian Georgia, even after 1917, apparently as a means not to offend religious sensibilities in the area, at a time of otherwise great social upheaval. Although Lenin was for the freedom of the proletariat, he did not, as Krausz suggest, deliberately legitimise homosexuality.  Other than abolishing the Czarist code, Lenin did not sign any decree specifically dealing with homosexuality.  This is an important historical point, as it exposes the further assertion alleged by Krausz that Stalin later effectively ‘abolished’ Lenin’s earlier good work.  Stalin did not abolish any homosexual-friendly law ‘decreed’ by Lenin simply because Lenin never issued any such law.  What Stalin did do was officiate over the impressive and much discussed 1936 Constitution of the USSR, seen by many as ground-breaking legal work, within which Article 121 is to be found.  Article 121, despite its curious reading, appears to have been designed to protect Soviet society from the menace of child abuse and paedophilia, although it is recorded that Soviet academia was interested in the practice of homosexuality from a medical perspective, and attempting to ascertain its root cause (with a number of early Soviet researchers following the Czarist assumption of aberration). This did not mean that homosexuals were persecuted – far from it – the general underlying trend in the USSR was to end all oppression, and facilitate the integration of the individual into the collective.

The Czarist regime, by and large was heavily influenced by the bourgeois mind-set of ‘moral conservatism’ found within the Judeo-Christian paradigm, which manifested in areas considered moral issues – vocally asserting that one mode of sexual expression was more ‘god-like’ than another. What usually accompanies this religiously inspired indignation is the practice of the highest hypocrisy which sees advocates of moral conservatism condemn others on the one hand for their sexual preferences, whilst secretly engaging in the very same sexual activity on the other. This treatment is usually decided by class in the bourgeois system, whereby middle class sex offenders are ignored or protected by the State their class controls, whilst working class ‘sexual offenders’ experience the full weight of the bourgeois law. As usual, the bourgeois lives in a secular world of duality inspired by the dichotomy of good and evil found in Judeo-Christian theology. The bourgeois wants to be ‘good’, and please his ‘god’, whilst always running the risk of giving-in to what might be correctly described as ‘natural impulses’ of desire – which he sees as ‘evil’. The underlying paradox for the bourgeois is that ‘pleasure’ equates to ‘evil’, and this serves as the basis for self-loathing and bizarre laws that only ever punish the lower strata of society. The bourgeois sleeps soundly in his bed at night knowing that the working class is being punished by a legal system that reflects his backward, religiously inspired viewpoints, even if those viewpoints manifest in a secular world. For the Christian monastic, celibacy is the highest form of worshipping his god. The bourgeois layman is confused – procreation is required to perpetuate the species (and he desires to participate in it), but his religion historically informs him that what is good for the man is not good for god. This inverted thinking deprives humanity of the means to perpetuate itself.

These attitudes, built up and sustained over many hundreds of years, are difficult to uproot over-night, even in a regime as progressive as the USSR, which did not pursue deliberately anti-gay agendas, but looked to ‘include’ rather than ‘exclude’.  The Soviet Union was a Socialist State seeking to evolve society beyond its feudal and capitalist limitations, and into an advanced Communist System where class, religion and State would no longer be required for the maintenance of an optimum human society. In regard to this objective, the Soviet legal system over-turned the rotten feudal and bourgeois system it inherited from the Czar. The Soviet legal system was progressive in every single manner, and made life better for virtually every single one of its citizens. The Soviet legal system was superior in every way to the bourgeois legal codes (even at its inception). Men and women were given absolute equality and protection under Soviet law, and the wording of the extensive anti-rape legislation appears to recognise that both a man and a woman can be raped. Another area that exhibits advanced consideration in the Soviet legal code is the rules concerning the prevention of rape and sexual exploitation of young children and minors. However, in the important area of homosexuality, its progressive nature was not fully developed at the time, not because of any ‘imagined’ anti-gay agendas, but because Socialist dialectical development simply takes time to unfold in a scientific and logical manner.

——————————————————-

Appendix I – Original Article: Homosexuality in the USSR (19.3,2015)

Author’s Note (added 30.5.2016):  Since I wrote this article, a new and crucial piece of evidence has come to light that suggests that the USSR under Lenin (in its early days) was in fact the first nation in history to legalise homosexuality:

‘At the same time Lenin stood up for freedom of lifestyle, apparent from the fact that a decree signed by him in Soviet Russia was the first in the world to end the criminality of homosexuality.  Chicherin, the commissar for foreign affairs, did not make a secret of the fact that he loved men, and many others did not hide their sexual orientation either.  It is another matter that under Stalin, as of March 1934, homosexuality came to be considered a medical disorder and an offense.’

(Krausz, Tamas, Reconstructing Lenin, an Intellectual Biography, Chapter 1 – Who Was Lenin – Page 71)

The footnote (numbered 199) accompanying this paragraph reads in part:

‘Soviet law proclaims the absolute non-interference of the state in any matters relating to the sexes, until no one suffers damages, and no one’s rights are infringed.’ Grigory Batkis 1925.

As a matter of clarification, my essay in essence deals with the post-1934 change in Soviet Law which effectively demonised homosexuality and in so doing turned the progressive clock of Lenin back.  This shift from enlightened liberalism to bigoted narrow-mindedness played straight into the hands of the rightwing moral conservatives – the natural enemies of the USSR.  ACW 30.5.15

It is an interesting point to observe that both the USSR (and the post-Soviet-Russian Federation), retain a hostile and negative attitude toward both the theory and practice of homosexuality – if homosexuality is defined as a sexual relationship between two consenting adults of the same gender; i.e. a man with a man, or a woman with a woman. This category of sexual relationship can also include bisexuality – whereby a man or a woman voluntarily engages in sexual relationships of a heterosexual and homosexual nature. Transgender is also an issue of sexuality, as a man may feel ‘trapped’ in a female ‘birth’ body, and a woman ‘trapped’ in a male ‘birth’ body, etc., thus affecting their apparent or real sexual orientation. Generally speaking, the bourgeois mind-set of ‘moral conservatism’ tends to apply a presumed Judeo-Christian paradigm to areas considered moral issues – vocally asserting that one mode of sexual expression is more ‘god-like’ than another. What usually accompanies this religiously inspired indignation is the practice of the highest hypocrisy which sees advocates of moral conservatism condemn others on the one hand for their sexual preferences, whilst secretly engaging in the very same sexual activity on the other. This treatment is usually decided by class in the bourgeois system, whereby middle class sex offenders are ignored or protected by the State their class controls, whilst working class ‘sexual offenders’ experience the full weight of the bourgeois law. As usual, the bourgeois lives in a secular world of duality inspired by the dichotomy of good and evil found in Judeo-Christian theology. The bourgeois wants to be ‘good’, and please his ‘god’, whilst always running the risk of giving-in to what might be correctly described as ‘natural impulses’ of desire – which he sees as ‘evil’. The underlying paradox for the bourgeois is that ‘pleasure’ equates to ‘evil’, and this serves as the basis for self-loathing and bizarre laws that only ever punish the lower strata of society. The bourgeois sleeps soundly in his bed at night knowing that the working class is being punished by a legal system that reflects his backward, religiously inspired viewpoints, even if those viewpoints manifest in a secular world. For the Christian monastic, celibacy is the highest form of worshipping his god. The bourgeois layman is confused – procreation is required to perpetuate the species (and he desires to participate in it), but his religion historically informs him that what is good for the man is not good for god. This inverted thinking deprives humanity of the means to perpetuate itself.

The Soviet Union was a Socialist State seeking to evolve society beyond its feudal and capitalist limitations, and into an advanced Communist System where class, religion and State would no longer be required for the maintenance of an optimum human society. In regard to this objective, the Soviet legal system over-turned the rotten feudal and bourgeois system it inherited from the Czar. The Soviet legal system was progressive in every single manner, and made life better for virtually every single one of its citizens. The Soviet legal system was superior in every way to the bourgeois legal codes. Men and women were given absolute equality and protection under Soviet law, and the wording of the extensive anti-rape legislation appears to recognise that both a man and a woman can be raped. Another area that exhibits advanced consideration in the Soviet legal code is the rules concerning the prevention of rape and sexual exploitation of young children and minors. However, in the important area of homosexuality, its progressive nature was not fully developed.

The concept of the possibility of a sexual relationship happening between a woman and a woman was not recognised as physically possible, and so no law was enacted either for or against its practice. However, the practice of sexual relations between a man and man was recognised within Soviet law, and firmly legislated against. The Soviet law text entitled ‘Criminal Code of the RSFSR’, in Chapter Four – Crimes Against the Life, Health, Freedom, and Dignity of the Person’, contains Article 121, which states in full the following, which forbids male homosexual relationships:

Pederasty

Sexual relations of a man with a man (pederasty),

Shall be punished by deprivation of freedom for a term of up to five years.

Pederasty committed with the application of physical force, or threats, or with respect to a minor, or with taking advantage of the dependent position of the victim,

Shall be punished by deprivation of freedom for a term of up to eight years.

(Butler, WE, Translator & Editor, Basic Documents on the Soviet Legal System, Oceana Publications, 1983, Page 344)

The choice of the term ‘pederasty’ is curious, as it derives from the origin Greek ‘paederasty’, which literally translates as ‘love of boys’, and refers to the ancient Greek cultural practice of sexual relations between mature men and adolescent males. However, it also carries the implied connotation that the practice of ‘homosexuality’, is in fact the practice of ‘child abuse’, with the former being clearly conflated with the latter, despite the fact that the actual anti-homosexual legislation in question, defines ‘pederasty’ as the performance of a sexual act between one man and another. Pederasty is generally defined as the committing of a homosexual act by an older man, upon a much younger male. The idea that two mature adults of a consenting age could enter a loving relationship is not considered possible in the Soviet legal code – much of which stemmed from the time period of 1917 onwards, and encapsulates many attitudes common to that time. Most bourgeois legal systems at that time did not protect their ordinary citizens to the extent that the Soviet legal code did, and none acknowledged the existence (or validity) of loving, homosexual relationships. Where homosexuality was mentioned by the bourgeois legal codes, it was usually viewed as an expression of sexual deviancy, and it is interesting to note that the legal system of the Soviet Union took this line, when in virtually all other areas, the USSR thoroughly departed away from established bourgeois thinking. For instance, its strictures protected the individual as well as the family, giving ample consideration to the rights of women and young children. In fact the emancipation of women from patriarchal control was a major feature of Soviet Law, and yet this did not apparently extend to the consideration of the emancipation of homosexual women from the equally ‘patriarchal’ bias of male legal domination. Instead, homosexuality was outlawed with a legal attack aimed solely at men – turning legitimate homosexual interaction between consenting adults into a dark act of violent and morally debased criminality.

The Soviet legislation against homosexuality must be viewed as a dialectical error. This judgement is correct even if a stringent and strictly ‘biological’ view is taken toward the physical mechanics of reproduction of the species, in relation to the practice of homosexuality. This stance suggests that as living off-spring are produced through the successful sexual interaction of a male and female – then logic dictates that this must be the ‘normal’ or ‘preferred’ mode of sexual orientation, and that any other form of sexual expression is by definition a diversion away from ‘normality’. However, all is not what it seems. Within the Judeo-Christian bible, it states that Adam and Eve (and others) procreated to give rise to the human race. This is imagined nonsense, of course, but it does explain the Christian Church’s bigotry when it comes to the matter of homosexuality – despite the fact that many modern-day Christian priests have been revealed to be both child-molesters and rapists, etc. The bourgeois system – even in its secular mode – carries on much of the religious bigotry bequeathed to it by the medieval church. This inverted attitude manifests through moral determinism which inflexibly judges things along theological lines as either ‘good’ (heterosexuality), or ‘bad’ (homosexuality). This has nothing to do with modern science, but is merely an outdated mode of religious thinking projected over empirical findings. Males and females do interact sexually to produce off-spring – this is not a moral fact but rather an impartial scientific observation – but it is not the only way that life is produced in the modern age. Off-spring can be produced through the skilful combining of a male sperm and a female egg under laboratory conditions. This shows the morally ‘blind’ nature of biological evolution and function. It does not matter where the healthy sperm or egg has originated, just as the gender or sexual orientation of the medical technicians involved is of no importance whatsoever. What is of paramount importance is that the mechanisms of biological processes are properly understood and correctly manipulated. Therefore the idea that procreation only happens during heterosexual activity is no longer correct or valid. Furthermore, although heterosexual activity does produce off-springs, it biological mechanism has been shown through scientific scrutiny, to be highly inefficient. However, despite this innate inefficiency, the fact that consenting sexual activity of any kind is inherently ‘pleasurable’ ensures that human beings participate in it throughout their lives. What the Soviet legal code should have considered is that the Bourgeois Judeo-Christian bias toward heterosexual relationships was dialectically redundant in the Socialist State, and it should have been radically abandoned along with capitalism and ownership of private property.  The Soviet legal code should have adopted a priori an anti-bourgeois dialectical position that swept away religiously inspired, feudalistic and bourgeois inverted views of the world with regards to the theory and practice of homosexuality. A Socialist State – by definition – is a dialectical progression ‘beyond’ the bourgeois system and its religious tendencies. Anti-homosexual views are a product of historical religious views that have been superimposed onto secular bourgeois society – simply through force of habit from one generation to the next – that has nothing to do with science, but which has been morally assumed to be ‘scientific’ in nature. Nature has evolved freely and outside of the moral (and religious) constraints of the human imagination. A Socialist State cannot, and should not preserve any bourgeois or religionists tendencies. Homosexuality does not only refer to human behaviour, but has been observed in other species. Homosexuality is a product of ‘blind’ evolution and is ‘natural’ in origination. From an evolutionary perspective, it exists because it efficiently and positively fulfils a biological function linked to human emotion and psychology. A Socialist State is not necessarily ‘pro’ homosexual, but neither should it be ‘anti’ homosexual – as these either-or categories are products of a bourgeois system premised upon the ‘good’ and ‘evil’ dichotomy of the Judeo-Christian religion. The practice of Socialist dialectics bursts open the constraints of bigoted bourgeois sentimentalism and inverted thinking, and ushers in a new era of psychological and physical freedom. A Socialist State serves to ‘progress’ homosexuality and should not oppress or criminalise it.

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2 Comments

  1. The USSR and Homosexuality Part II (Czarist Article 995) | The Sangha Kommune.
  2. The USSR and Homosexuality Part III (RSFSR Article 154a) | The Sangha Kommune.

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