Dans la revue Modern & Contemporary France
The social problem of homosexuality was a salient issue in the Swiss public sphere, encapsulated by this book’s title. The author examines how a series of experts and competing discourses cast male homosexuality as both "uncompromisingly dangerous" to the social order whilst also creating one of the most liberal criminal law regulations in Europe at the time. Dealing with these premises, the book is a timely engagement for a French reading audience of asmall yet nevertheless influential European country’s practices and discourses of homosexuality. Whilst there has been a growing body of work within Lesbian and Gay Studies on various
Swiss periods or on particular locations, in examining in some detail, as Delessert does, tribunals and prosecutions for male same-sex encounters before and during World War II, this book adds substantially to the literature on Swiss homosexualities and provides a detailed account of male homosexual life in Switzerland. Delessert achieves this by providing the reader with three separate yet interlinked domains which were concerned with homosexuality: he provides, in a first section of the book, a discussion of the social and cultural context of homosexuality in Switzerland by looking at the only existing European gay journal and association during WWII, Der Kreis, distributed from Zurich. Yet, whilst the subculture around homosexuality has always been closely linked to the bigger cities and had international networks, Delessert is careful not to neglect the situation in ruralplaces andemphasises the importance of the federal organisation of much of Swiss life and its impact. Similarly social class appears numerous times as an important organising principle in dealings with male homosexuality.
The book’s organisation into three sections follows Delessert’s research strategy of examining the social and cultural context of male homosexuality, the judicial context and finally the psychiatric context. This allows, to some extent, for an independent reading of these sections yet it should be emphasised that the richness of this book lies precisely in the interconnections between these domains. The three main sections are preceded by a context-setting introduction and a conclusion about the relation of homosexuality and the social order, as well as four useful appe