Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

The holistic approach to male homosexuality under Brezhnev: new evidence

Fri31  Mar01:15pm(15 mins)
Bute Hall
Miss Irina Roldugina


Irina Roldugina1
1 University of Pittsburgh, United States


Lately, historians have been very prolific in broadening our knowledge of the scholarly assessment of homosexuality in the Soviet Union after Stalin's death. Newly gleaned archival evidence shows that Soviet medical and legal experts actively contested the criminalisation of homosexuality in the 1960s-1970s. Similarly to the revolutionary 1920s, many late Soviet scholars supported the idea of decriminalisation and scientific assessment of a homosexual. Many were inspired by the prospect of a new Soviet person and its malleable, fixable nature. They also tried to find scientific ways to destigmatise a homosexual subject. Having relied upon this scholarship, the present paper analyses the previously unknown, recently declassified piece of work of a renowned medical expert (his doctoral dissertation) dedicated to male homosexuality exclusively. A Soviet expert enjoyed prolific cooperation with the ministry of internal affairs, which provided him with the newest and most detailed records of all men convicted of homosexuality in the 1970s in Leningrad, including access to their criminal files. This valuable material offers a more nuanced picture of scholarly intervention in homosexuality under Brezhnev.