“Illegal Loves and Sexual Deviancy: Homosexuality as a Threat in Cold War Canada”

Erin Gallagher-Cohoon


This paper analyzes the criminalization and medicalization of homosexuality during the early twentieth century in Canada. Through court records and medical texts the discourse of homosexuality as a threat to the family unit and to the nation is contextualized within Cold War rhetoric. A Foucaultian conceptualization of power and discipline helps frame questions regarding homosexuality as a criminal offense and as a mental illness. It is argued that both state control and societal pressures constructed the homosexual as criminal, the homosexual as mental patient and, as a result, the homosexual as Communist threat.

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