In 1895, Oscar Wilde  1  was condemned to two years' hard labour for homosexual acts. Hirschfeld repeatedly quoted this case as a scandalous example of the prevailing sexual criminal law and mentioned it as a major compelling reason for concerning himself with homosexuality. For almost 40 years, Hirschfeld courageously campaigned for the decriminalization and social recognition of homosexuals. For him, there was a cogent argument against prosecuting homosexuals: same-sex behaviour could not be put down to any "depraved lifestyle", nor to "seduction", but, rather, it resulted from a sexual constitution incurred through no fault of one's own and very often not of one's own liking."

Hirschfeld spent his whole life scientifically substantiating his line of argument. Taking up the concept of a "third sex" postulated by Karl-Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895) i.e. an innate combination of sexual characteristics, Hirschfeld outlined the male homosexual as an effeminate "special type" - as regards "body and soul". He and his colleagues traced as elements: a smooth, fine skin, soft hair, a wide pelvis, a "feminine" handwriting, a weak muscular system, a mincing gait, etc.(Adaption Therapy)

Hirschfeld's image of the homosexual did not fail to provoke contradiction. In the early phases of the German homosexual movement, it was not only a figure of identification but also a forbidding and repellent image. Homosexual men and organizations fiercely attacked Hirschfeld's "demi-women".

The theory of homosexuality's innate character was widely and strongly criticized scientifically - presumably because Hirschfeld employed this argument to back up his battle to have homosexuals recognised.

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