This lawyer helped pioneer the gay rights movement in late-1800s Germany

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06/02/2019

This week’s entry: Karl Heinrich Ulrichs What it’s about: A man many see as the father of the gay rights movement. Ulrichs was a journalist and lawyer who campaigned for gay rights in 1860s Germany, first under a pseudonym, and then his own name, and as such is considered one of the first prominent openly gay figures in the modern era. Biggest controversy: Ulrichs spent the 1860s more or less always in trouble with the law. He moved around various German states (Germany at that time was a loose confederation that didn’t become a unified country until 1871). But in each instance, he was prosecuted not for being gay, but for writing about being gay. His books were banned in Saxony, Berlin, and Prussia, and many remained out of print until this century. When Prussia annexed Ulrichs’ native Hanover in 1866, he was briefly imprisoned for opposing Prussian rule. At the end of the 1870s, he finally fled Germany for Naples, where he lived out the rest of his life.

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