MSDC in NY Review of Books

Last August, while researching a book on contemporary gay rights politics, I traveled to Spain, the country with the longest history of policies intended to make amends for past wrongs against the gay community, otherwise known as “gay reparation.” I wanted to know what made Spain—a country notorious for having burned “sodomites” at the stake during the Inquisition—a pioneer on this new front of LGBT activism. I was also eager to learn how the gay reparation movement had spread so quickly to other countries. In the last decade alone, close to a dozen nations, including the United States, have embraced some form of gay reparation—from financial compensation for those who faced criminal prosecution because of their sexual orientation, to a formal apology to the gay community for past policies of anti-gay discrimination, to the creation of a truth commission to chronicle the history of homosexual repression. And I was curious to gain insight into the puzzling question of why some countries in the West were choosing this particular moment in history to come to terms with a centuries-old grim legacy of state policies intended to humiliate, dehumanize, and even exterminate homosexuals.

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