“Unseemly Practices”: Sodomy and Punishment in Seventeenth Century British North America

Samantha West


Despite numerous laws and religious tracts prohibiting homosexuality and the practise of same-sex activity in colonial North America, very few people were ever brought to trial – and even fewer found guilty – for engaging in such “unseemly practises.” Using both primary and secondary sources, this paper attempts to dissect the reasoning behind the relative lack of prosecutions of men thought to have participated in “sodomitical [sic] behaviour”. Issues of community, power, and religion as they related to sodomy will be discussed.

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