France Was The First West European Country to Decriminalize Homosexuality


The legalization of homosexual acts between two concording adults came as element of the French Penal Code of 1791, during the French Revolution. This code was sponsored by French politician Louis-Michel le Peletier, who presented the code as a clear guide to crimes and their respective punishments. It was a major shift in legal procedure, taking power away from judges and instead outlining explicitly what a crime’s repercussions were. The code was also notable in that it didn’t adhere to a strict Christian doctrine and legalized sodomy.

Other European countries would obstruct to approach to France’s liberal legislation. England didn’t pass the Sexual Offences Bill until 1967, and even then, homosexuality only became legal when in “private”, between two men over the age of 21. More than two men were still considered illegal, as were engaging in sexual acts in a hotel. The bill did not extend to Scotland or some other parts of the UK, and was not amended to fully legalize homosexuality until 2000.Spain decriminalized homosexuality in 1979, and Italy in 1887.


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