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Precocious Queer Politics: Sodomy Law Reform in Early 19th c. Britain (in person only)

June 1, 2022 @ 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

The first parliamentary debates over the immorality of the death penalty for sodomy occurred in Britain in the early nineteenth century, as part of a fragmented and largely forgotten political effort to lessen the penalties for sex between men. This talk explains how a form of queer politics was possible before modern homosexual identity, recounting the new discoveries published in Beyond the Law”: The Politics Ending the Death Penalty for Sodomy in Britain (Temple University Press, 2021). Jeffrey Weeks, author of the first landmark works of LGBTQ history for nineteenth century Britain, has called this research “a triumph of historical detective work… [that] is genuinely breaking new ground.” Join the author, Charles Upchurch, and eminent historian of LGBTQ history, Jonathan Ned Katz, for an illustrated presentation and discussion of this new research.

This event will take place in person at the Bureau of General Services—Queer Division, in room 210 of The LGBT Community Center, 208 West 13th Street.

Registration is not required. Seating is first come, first served.

Suggested donation $5 to benefit the Bureau’s work.

All are welcome to attend, with or without donation.

We will pass a bag for donations at the start of the event, but we can also take credit card donations at the register.


Safety protocol (for those joining in person)

In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

If you have any symptoms associated with COVID-19 in the days leading up to the event, we ask you to please stay home.

Please note that masks are required at all times in The LGBT Community Center, where the Bureau is located.


Purchase Charles Upchurch’s Beyond the Law”: The Politics Ending the Death Penalty for Sodomy in Britain (Temple University Press, 2021, paperback, $35.95) from the Bureau’s online store (click on title).

Copies of Beyond the Law”: The Politics Ending the Death Penalty for Sodomy in Britain are also available at the Bureau’s physical store.

Thank you for supporting the Bureau by purchasing books from us!


Charles Upchurch is an Associate Professor of British history at Florida State University. His latest book, “Beyond the Law”: The Politics of Ending the Death Penalty for Sodomy in Britain, was published 2021 by Temple University Press, and recounts the previously untold story of the parliamentary effort to end the death penalty for sodomy in the early nineteenth century. His first book, Before Wilde: Sex Between Men in Britain’s Age of Reform, explores the ways in which family and class influenced the interpretation of same-sex desire in the period between 1820 and 1870. He has served as a Distinguished Academic Patron of LGBT History Month in the United Kingdom, and he is currently the President of the Southern Conference on British Studies.


Jonathan Ned Katz is an Independent Scholar, history activist, and visual artist. He has published five books on the history of sexuality and intimacy and a brief memoir, Coming of Age in Greenwich Village (2013). His most recent book is The Daring Life and Dangerous Times of Eve Adams (2021). Earlier books are Love Stories: Sex Between Men Before Homosexuality (2001); The Invention of Heterosexuality (1995);  Gay/Lesbian Almanac (1983), and Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (1976).


June 1, 2022
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM


Bureau of General Services—Queer Division
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Bureau of General Services–Queer Division
208 West 13th Street, Room 210
New York, NY 10011 United States
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