This article was published on March 26th, 2019
Roman professor Roberto de Mattei caused a stir in 2011. “A homosexual epidemic caused the fall of the Roman empire,” he stated in a radio interview, “The Roman colony of Carthago was a paradise for homosexuality and effeminacy and they infected everyone else.” The conquest by the Hunnic and Mongolian peoples was a direct consequence: “These homosexual and effeminate men have no place in God’s kingdom. The barbarians had no place for a thing like homosexuality and this shows the divine justice behind the events of the Great Migration and the Fall of Rome.”
While this statement obviously is not taken serious by other historians, research on homosexuality in Attila the Hun’s Asian empire produces almost to no results. Unless the practice of gay relationships among Roman and Greek soldiers or pederasty in earlier times, the conquering Eastern tribes – although being a highly militaristic society themselves – had nothing comparable. On the contrary, Genghis Khan banned every form of homosexuality in the 12thcentury, hoping to quickly expand the population of his realm and to somehow equal the rival Chinese Song dynasty.
In the growing Holy Roman Empire which Charlemagne established on the foundation of Christianity, homosexual acts and relationships were banned by the church.
For Christian scholars, the sexual act was only natural if it was meant to procreate. Thus, every other act which did not insist to produce children – including anal sex between a man and a woman – was a crime against nature and against God and equaled to sodomy. In the Middle Ages, sodomy became the term used to describe men having sex with other men, society being highly influenced by the theologian Thomas of Aquinas. This became the standard from the Early Middle Ages for hundreds of years: ‘I answer that […] wherever there occurs a special kind of deformity whereby the venereal act is rendered unbecoming, there is a determinate species of lust. This may occur in two ways: First, through being contrary to right reason, and this is common to all lustful vices; secondly, because, in addition, it is contrary to the natural order of the venereal act as becoming to the human race: and this is called “the unnatural vice.”
This may happen in several ways. First, by procuring pollution [i.e. masturbation], without any copulation, for the sake of venereal pleasure: this pertains to the sin of “uncleanness” which some call “effeminacy.” Secondly, by copulation with a thing of undue species, and this is called “bestiality.” Thirdly, by copulation with an undue sex, male with male, or female with female, as the Apostle states: and this is called the “vice of sodomy.” Fourthly, by not observing the natural manner of copulation, either as to undue means, or as to “other monstrous and bestial manners of copulation.”
He makes it clear why homosexuality as an unnatural act should be punished so hard: ‘Just as the ordering of right reason proceeds from man, so the order of nature is from God Himself: wherefore in sins contrary to nature, whereby the very order of nature is violated, an injury is done to God, the Author of nature. Hence Augustine says (Confess. iii, 8): “Those foul offenses that are against nature should be everywhere and at all times detested and punished, such as were those of the people of Sodom, which should all nations commit, they should all stand guilty of the same crime, by the law of God which hath not so made men that they should so abuse one another. For even that very intercourse which should be between God and us is violated, when that same nature, of which He is the Author, is polluted by the perversity of lust.”’
These punishments became harsher and harsher during the Middle Ages and included castration, dismemberment and burning.
The fall of classic Greco-Roman polytheistic societies was a disaster to LGBT culture. Christian religion cut a deep wound into a lifestyle once tolerated, accepted and even idolized. To this day, the consequences from this turning point can be seen all around the globe.