Atelier Genre(s) et Sexualité(s) « Celebrating 150 years of homo/heterosexuality »


by Gert Hekma, Universiteit van Amsterdam, MSH Guest Professor and Judit Takács, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

With the MSH and the CIERL, as part of the ARC Project Sex&Pil

In 1868, the journalist and translator Károly Kertbeny invented the notions of homo and heterosexuality. Our two guests, Gert Hekma (Universiteit van Amsterdam, MSH Guest Professor) and Judit Takacs (Hungarian Academy of Sciences) will celebrate this unusal anniversary by exploring Kertbeny’s work and his legacy until today.

The first presentation, by Judit Takács, will focus on the life and legacy of Károly Kertbeny, an Austrian-born Hungarian journalist and translator. He was born as Karl Maria Benkert in Vienna in 1824 “as a son of Hungarian parents”. While his mother tongue was German, he declared himself Hungarian: “I was born in Vienna, yet I am not a Viennese, but rightfully Hungarian”. In 1847 he officially changed his name to Kertbeny. In Hungarian literary history he is recorded as a not very significant translator and writer but in LGBT history he is remembered for his inventiveness in sexual terminology, especially for coining the terms heterosexual and homosexual, and for the theoretical case he made for homosexual emancipation.

The second presentation, by Gert Hekma, will focus on the importance of the 19th century activism being undertaken in favour of homosexual theorizing and rights foremost by homosexuals themselves and subsequently by doctors. First by Claude-François Michéa with his new term philopédie in 1849, then by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs with uranism in 1864, by Karl Maria Benkert with homo- and heterosexual in 1869 and finally by doctors like Carl von Westphal and Richard von Krafft-Ebing with ‘conträre sexual Empfindung’ (something like sexual inversion; 1869, 1886). It is not only important to realize that new words were forget, but also that new meanings and understandings of sex and desire were produced (female soul in male body, innate attraction, legal equality), as well as new sexual realities.


Judit Takács is a Research Chair at the Institute of Sociology, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Budapest). Her most recent publications include “Trans Citizenship in Post-socialist Societies” (Critical Social Policy; with R. Kuhar and S. Monro), “Social Attitudes toward Adoption by Same-Sex Couples in Europe” (Archives of Sexual Behavior; with I. Szalma and T. Bartus), and “Disciplining gender and (homo)sexuality in state socialist Hungary in the 1970s” (European Review of History). Currently she works as a Seconded National Expert at the ECDC in Stockholm.

Gert Hekma taught gay and lesbian studies or sex and gender studies at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. He has worked on queer history in The Netherlands and Europe and published widely on these issues with others in The Pursuit of Sodomy (1989), Goed verkeerd (1989), Gay Men and the Sexual History of the Political Left (1995), A Cultural History of Sexuality in the Modern Age (2011), Sexual Revolutions (2014) and De Sade Symposia (2015).

Monday 26 March at 5 pm to 7 pm

Salle Henri Janne (15e étage)
Institut de Sociologie
Avenue Jeanne 44
1050 Bruxelles

Free entry