Islamophobie und „Anti-Sodomie“ im Mittelalter

Sex mit Tieren und zwischenmännlicher Analverkehr — beides in der christlichen Tradition unter dem Rubrum „Sodomie“ (oder englisch „Buggery“) begrifflich zusammengefasst — sind immer schon zentrale Topoi der antijüdischen und antimoslemischen Hetze gewesen. So ersuchte etwa das ‚Good Parliament‘ den englischen König Edward III. im Jahr 1376

to banish foreign artisans and traders, particularly ‚Jews and Saracens [Muslime]‘, accusing them of having introduced ‚the too horrible vice which is not to be named‘ which would destroy the realm. But it was not until 1533 that a statute was actually enacted against homosexuals. The Act — 25 Henry 8, Chapter 6 — begins ‚Forasmuch there is not yet sufficient and condign punishment appointed and limited by the due course of the Laws of this Realm, for the detestable and abominable Vice of Buggery committed with mankind or beast‘, and proceeds to adjudge it a felony punishable by hanging until dead.1

England war hier freilich ein historischer Nachzügler. Denn bereits während der Jahre 1250 bis 1350 war fast im gesamten christlichen Europa die Todesstrafe für „Sodomie“ eingeführt worden, und zwar ganz unzweifelhaft im Kontext der antimuslimischen Kreuzzugspropaganda, so dass es keineswegs übertrieben erscheint, den historischen Zündfunken der europäischen Schwulenverfolgung im mittelalterlichen Antiislamismus zu sehen. John Boswell dazu:2

If the ultimate origins of late medieval intolerance are at present indeterminable, the proximate causes are a little more accessible. One of the most obvious of these was the xenophobia which induced, accompanied, and resulted from the crusades. It is somewhat ironic that religious and secular leaders had at first hoped the crusades would reduce internal conflict in Europe by deflecting internecine hostilities and chronic feudal warfare onto a common external enemy. Once roused to fervor against the enemies of Christendom, however, crusading armies showed less discrimination in venting their aggressive feelings than pious leaders had anticipated. The first crusading armies got no further than Germany before they turned their combative energy on the hapless Jews of the Rhineland and murdered them by the thousands.


Gay people, like other groups, were also affected by the animosities connected with the crusades. Serious early polemics against Islam had sometimes criticized Muslim marital practices but did not focus on Islamic tolerance of homosexuality. From the time of the first crusade, however, accounts of Muslim sexual mores increasingly concentrated on behavior which was atypical or repugnant to the majority of Christians. Doubtless such efforts were not intended as derogations of homosexuality per se, and significantly, the earliest examples used homosexual rape — not consensual homosexual acts — as instances of Muslim immorality. But the regular association of minority sexual preference with the most dreaded of Europe’s enemies inevitably increased popular antipathy toward the minority as well as the Muslims.

An „appeal from the Eastern emperor“ for aid against the pagans overrunning the Holy Land, which was forged and circulated in the West to arouse popular support for the first crusade, concentrated its attention not on theological or political differences between Christians and Muslims but on extreme violations of sexual and ethnic taboos sure to evoke horror and disgust among Europeans. Thinly veiled anti-Semitism underlay the charge that the infidels circumcised Christian youths over the baptismal fonts of churches, allowing the „blood of circumcision“ to run into the fonts. The invaders not only ravished Christian virgins and matrons but forced the mothers to sing lewd songs while observing the rape of their daughters and vice versa. „But what next? We pass on to worse yet. They have degraded by sodomizing them men of every age and rank: boys, adolescents, young men, old men, nobles, servants, and, what is worse and more wicked, clerics and monks, and even — alas and for shame! something which from the beginning of time has never been spoken of or heard of — bishops! They have already killed one bishop with this nefarious sin.“

The letter and the tales of infidel sexual atrocities were immensely popular and effective and found their way into crusade literature of every sort. In Guibert of Nogent’s contemporary history of the first crusade (The Work of God Performed by the Franks), the account of the fatal rape of the bishop is followed by the implication that such behavior was characteristic of Muslims and is subtly linked to the famous Middle Eastern incident which gave „sodomy“ its name: „Although it is allowed the wretches, in their opinion, to have many women, this is accounted little by them unless the value of such filth is also sullied by uncleanliness with men. Nor is it surprising that God has impatiently borne their ancient evil and the cry against it and that the land has vomited forth such execrations from its dead inhabitants.“

Throughout the thirteenth century, wanton and violent sexuality were prominent and regular attributes of Muslim society in most Western literature. Jacques de Vitry informed readers of his Oriental History that Muhammad,

    the enemy of nature, popularized the vice of sodomy among his people, who sexually abuse not only both genders but even animals and have for the most part become like mindless horses or mules …

    Sunk, dead, and buried in the filth of obscene desire, pursuing like animals the lusts of the flesh, they can resist no vices but are miserably enslaved to and ruled by carnal passions, often without even being roused by desire; they consider it meritorious to stimulate the most sordid desires.

The earliest and most drastic legislation against gay people enacted by any government of the High Middle Ages was passed in the nascent kingdom of Jerusalems by Europeans attempting to create a Western feudal society in the Muslim Middle East. These laws, drafted only decades after the first crusade, specified death by burning for „sodomites,“ and it is quite clear that the word in this case referred to homosexual males.

Although this legislation was not imitated in the West for more than a century, the feelings which produced it were only slightly less powerful there. Crusaders who remained in the Holy Land were accused by Western propagandist of adopting the „effiminate“ ways of the Muslims, and those who returned were rumored to have brought back with them the filthy customs of the pagans.

As crusade after crusade failed, the „sodomitical“ Muslims came to seem a greater and greater threat to Europe, and accounts of Muslim wickedness reached even higher pitches in their efforts to rouse Euopean antagonism.

    According to the religion of the Saracens, any sexual act whatever is not only allowed but approved and encouraged, so that in addition to innumerable prostitutes, they have effiminate men in great number who shave their beards, paint their faces, put on women’s clothing, wear bracelets on their arms and legs and gold necklaces around their necks as women do, and adorn their chest with jewels. Thus selling themselves into sin, they degrade and expose their bodies; „men with men working that which is unseemly,“ they receive „in themselves“ the recompense of their sin and error [Röm 1: 27]. The Saracens, oblivious of human dignity, freely resort to these effeminates or live with them as among us men and women live together openly.

Christians, it was charged, cooperated in beautifying and selling hapless Christians youths for this purpose, „feed[ing] them with sumptuous meals and delicate beaverages to make them pinker and rosier and more voluptuous, and thus more alluring and apt to satisfy the lust of the Saracens. And when the libidinous, vile, and wicked men — the Saracens — corrupters of human nature, see the boys, they immediately burn with lust for them and, like mad dog, race to buy the boys for themselves … so that they can have their evil way with them.“ [Guillelmus Adae, Wie man die Sarazenen ausmerzt]

  1. Rictor Norton, Mother Clap’s Molly House : The Gay Subculture in England 1700 — 1830 (GMP : London, 1992), 15. [zurück]
  2. John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality : Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (University of Chicago Press : Chicago, 1981), 272--283. [zurück]

1 Antwort auf „Islamophobie und „Anti-Sodomie“ im Mittelalter“

  1. Gravatar Icon 1 Jim Schumacher 14. Oktober 2007 um 1:49 Uhr

    Eigentlich ist doch sehr wohl klar, dass ein riesengroßer Teil aller Hassschriften und -predigten auf Selbsthass zurückzuführen ist, den verschiedene Menschen schon immer hatten.
    Man sehe sich nur das Beispiel einiger berühmter religiöser Homophobiker an, und sofort wird klar, dass solche Menschen eigentlich kein Problem mit Schwulen haben, sondern mit sich selbst. Sie sind irgendwann verletzt worden oder haben einfach nicht viele soziale Kontakte knüpfen können, waren immer Außenseiter…und deswegen wälzen sie den inneren Frust und den Hass auf das eigene schwache Selbst auf eine Randgruppe ab, die genau das repräsentiert was sie nie geschafft haben: Selbstbehauptung und Selbstbewusstsein. Sie sehen alles was sie immer haben wollten und verabscheuen gesellschaftliche Minoritäten deswegen. Und natürlich, weil es die einzigen Leute sind, deren Diskriminierung öffentlich vertretbar ist.
    Und wenn dann als Argument auch noch Gott und die Bibel herangezogen werden, dann kann man einfach nur noch den Kopf schütteln, denn jeder der auch nur einen Satz der Bibel gelesen hat, spürt ganz deutlich dass die Botschaft darin eine andere wie die der Xeno- und Homophobie, sondern vielmehr das berühmte „Liebe deinen Nächsten“, ist.

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