Regulating homosexuality in Soviet Russia, 1956-91

A different history

By Rustam Alexander

Regulating homosexuality in Soviet Russia, 1956-91


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5576-4
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: May 2021
  • BIC Category: History, Modern History, LAW / Legal History, HISTORY / Europe / Russia & the Former Soviet Union, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gay Studies, Former Soviet Union, Ussr (Europe), Humanities / Postwar 20th century history, from c 1945 to c 2000, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Legal History


This ground-breaking book challenges the widespread view that sex and homosexuality were unmentionable in the USSR. The Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras (1956-82) have remained obscure and unexplored from this perspective. Drawing on previously undiscovered sources, Alexander fills in this critical gap.

The book reveals that from 1956 to 1991, doctors, educators, jurists and police officers discussed homosexuality. At the heart of discussions were questions which directly affected the lives of homosexual people in the USSR. Was homosexuality a crime, disease or a normal variant of human sexuality? Should lesbianism be criminalised? Could sex education prevent homosexuality? What role did the GULAG and prisons play in homosexuality across the USSR? These discussions often had practical implications - doctors designed and offered medical treatments for homosexuality in hospitals, and procedures and medications were also used in prisons.


1 Homosexuality in the Soviet GULAG (1956-59)
2 Same-sex desire and sex education under Khrushchev (1956-64)
3 From sodomy to homosexuality: same-sex desire and the rise of Soviet sexopathology in the 1960s
4 Soviet legal and criminological debates on the decriminalisation of homosexuality (1959-75)
5 Between disease and crime: sexopathology and prison homosexuality (1970-80)


Rustam Alexander is an independent scholar who holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne

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