The Scientific-Humanitarian Committee
, WhK) was founded in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...
on the 14th or 15 May, 1897, to campaign for social recognition of homosexual, bisexual and transgender men and women, and against their legal persecution. It was the first
such organization in history.
It produced the Jahrbuch für sexuelle Zwischenstufen
(Yearbook for Intermediate Sexual Types
). This, as well as reporting the committee's activities, carried articles of scientific, polemical and literary natures. It was publish regularly from 1899 to 1923 (sometimes even quarterly) and more sporadically until 1933.
The initial focus of the WhK was Paragraph 175
Paragraph 175 was a provision of the German Criminal Code from 15 May 1871 to 10 March 1994. It made homosexual acts between males a crime, and in early revisions the provision also criminalized bestiality. All in all, around 140,000 men were convicted under the law.The statute was amended several...
of the Imperial Penal Code, which criminalized "coitus-like" acts between males — the WhK assisted defendants in criminal trials, conducted public lectures, and gathered signatures on a petition for the repeal of the law. Signatories included Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...
, Hermann Hesse
Hermann Hesse was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature...
, Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual...
, Rainer Maria Rilke
René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke , better known as Rainer Maria Rilke, was a Bohemian–Austrian poet. He is considered one of the most significant poets in the German language...
, and Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...
. Petitions were submitted to parliament, in 1898, 1922 and 1925, but failed to gain the support of the parliament, and the law continued to criminalise all male-male sexual acts until 1969 and wasn't entirely removed until 1994.
Original members of the WhK included physician Magnus Hirschfeld
Magnus Hirschfeld was a German physician and sexologist. An outspoken advocate for sexual minorities, Hirschfeld founded the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, which Dustin Goltz called "the first advocacy for homosexual and transgender rights."-Early life:Hirschfeld was born in Kolberg in a...
, publisher Max Spohr
Johannes Hermann August Wilhelm Max Spohr was a German bookseller and publisher. He was one of the first publishers worldwide, who published LGBT publications...
, lawyer Eduard Oberg and writer Franz Joseph von Bülow. Adolf Brand
Adolf Brand was a German writer, individualist anarchist and pioneering campaigner for the acceptance of male bisexuality and homosexuality.-Biography:...
, Benedict Friedländer, and Kurt Hiller
Kurt Hiller also known as Keith Lurr and Klirr was a German essayist of high stylistic originality and a political journalist from a Jewish family. A socialist, he was deeply influenced by Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer, despising the philosophy of G. W. F...
also joined the organisation. In 1929, Hiller took over as chairman of the group from Hirschfeld. At its peak, the WhK had about 500 members, and branches in approximately 25 cities in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.
The committee was dissolved in 1933 when the Nazis destroyed the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft
The Institut für Sexualwissenschaft was an early private sexology research institute in Germany from 1919 to 1933. The name is variously translated as Institute of Sex Research, Institute for Sexology or Institute for the Science of Sexuality...
in Berlin where the WhK was based.
On October 1949, Hans Giese joined with Hermann Weber (1882–1955), head of the Frankfurt local group from 1921 to 1933, to reëstablish the group in Kronberg. Kurt Hiller worked with them briefly, but stopped due to personal differences after a few months. The group was dissolved in late 1949 or early 1950 and instead formed the Committee for Reform of the Sexual Criminal Laws (Gesellschaft für Reform des Sexualstrafrechts e. V.
), which existed until 1960.
In 1962 in Hamburg, Hiller, who had survived Nazi concentration camps and continued to fight against anti-homosexual repression, tried unsuccessfully to re-establish the WhK.
The new WhK
In 1998, a new group was formed with the same name. Growing out of a group to support politician Volker Beck
Volker Beck is a German politician. He is a sitting member of parliament for the Green Party in the Bundestag. Beck served as the Green Party Speaker for Legal Affairs from 1994–2002, and as the Green Party whip in the Bundestag since then...
in that year's election, it is similar in name and general subject matter only, and takes more radical positions than the conservative LSVD
Lesben und Schwulenverband in Deutschland is the largest civil rights organisation of homosexuals in Germany....
. In 2001, its magazine Gigi: magazine for sexual emancipation
(Gigi - Zeitschrift für sexuelle Emanzipation
) was given a special award by the German association of Lesbian and Gay Journalists (Bundes Lesbischer und Schwuler JournalistInnen
- Timeline of LGBT history
The following is a timeline of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender related history.-9660 to 5000 BC:* Mesolithic rock art in Sicily depicts phallic male figures in pairs that have been interpreted variously, including as depictions of homosexual intercourse.-7000 to 1700 BC:*Among the sexual...
- Iraqi Scientific Humanitarian Committee
frame|right|From [[John Addington Symonds]]' 1891 book A Problem in Modern Ethics.Uranian is a 19th century term that referred to a person of a third sex — originally, someone with "a female psyche in a male body" who is sexually attracted to men, and later extended to cover homosexual gender...