[Marxism] Gays and German Communists

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 1 10:24:28 MDT 2004


Sexual freedom vs. fascism in Germany
By Leslie Feinberg

Decades of left-wing political activism, agitation and education ushered 
in the short-lived era of the "Golden Twenties" in Germany. Berlin 
rivaled Paris for its flourishing gay and lesbian cultures-which 
included transgender expression. The movement had forced the police to 
issue certificates to trans people, allowing them to "cross-dress" 
without threat of arrest.

Turn-of-the-century independent strug gles for sexual reform, including 
the movement for women's right to vote-which had held its first large 
protest in Berlin in 1894-were coalescing into a broad political 
alliance between the women's emancipation movement and the gay, trans 
and lesbian movement.

(clip)

In the heat of the struggle, the actual positions the German Communist 
Party and the Nazi Party took on homosexuality and on abortion 
demonstrate class objectives as different as night and day.

In 1928 gay publisher Adolf Brand, a founding member of an elitist and 
male chauvinist German gay group called the Community of the Special, 
polled the political parties of Germany about their position on 
Paragraph 175.

After the Second International collapsed following its surrender to the 
inter-imperialist chauvinism of World War I, German revolutionary 
elements joined the Communist Party. As the Communist Party became 
strong, it responded to the call by the gay/trans/lesbian movement for 
support against Paragraph 175.

The Communist Party replied that it had "taken a stand for the repeal of 
Paragraph 175 at every available opportunity. There is no need to 
emphasize that we will continue to wage the most resolute struggle for 
the repeal of these laws in the future."

Communist lawyer Felix Halle, a co-worker in the Coalition for Reform of 
the Sexual Crimes Code, provided this formulation of the German 
Communist Party's stance:

"The class-conscious proletariat, uninfluenced by the ideology of 
property and freed from the ideology of the churches, approaches the 
question of sex life and also the problem of homosexuality with a lack 
of prejudice afforded by an understanding of the overall social 
structure. ... In accordance with the scientific insights of modern 
times, the proletariat regards these relations as a special form of 
sexual gratification and demands the same freedom and restrictions for 
these forms of sex life as for intercourse between the sexes, i.e., 
protection of the sexually immature from attacks, ... control over one's 
own body, and finally respect for the rights of non-involved parties."

The Nazis deliberately hid the fascist nature of their party by calling 
themselves "National Socialists." But their response to the poll shows 
that their program was just the opposite of a communist workers' party. 
The Nazi reply included this succinct sentence: "Anyone who even thinks 
of homosexual love is our enemy."

Some theorists have explained this ferocious enmity as part of the Nazi 
effort to build a "Rambo" fighting machine. That's true. But the fact 
that the fascists despised and destroyed the movements for sexuality, 
gender and sexual freedom was also rooted in their entire political 
ideology and the capitalist class objective it served.

full: http://www.workers.org/ww/2004/prideseries0701.php

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