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social sciences

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A large percentage of homosexual men were sentenced to hard labor at the rock quarries of the Dora-Mittelbau underground rocket factory. They were also subjected to medical experimentation, including castration, in search for a "cure" to their "sexual deviance."

At the end of World War II in 1945, Austria was restored to its pre-war frontiers and occupied by the victorious allies--the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and France--for a decade. On May 15, 1955, the Austrian State Treaty was ratified, with Austria declaring its permanent neutrality.

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Today's Vienna

In 1995 Austria became a member of the European Union. Vienna's Historic Center was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, and its "urban and architectural qualities" were designated to "bear outstanding witness to a continuing interchange of values throughout the second millennium."

Several important crusades have been won over the last decades in the fight for legal and political equality in Vienna. In 1971, the country's laws were repealed, although it was not until 1996 that a federal law prohibiting public displays of homosexuality was abolished.

In 1979, in defiance of a ban against homosexual organizations, a group of gay activists founded the Homosexuelle Initiative Wien (Homosexual Initiative Vienna, or HOSI), which remains the strongest voice for gay men and lesbians in national politics. It publishes the magazine Lambda-Nachrichten (Lambda-News).

More recently, section 209 of the penal code, which set the age of consent for sex between men at 18 while lesbians and heterosexuals were legally allowed to have sex at the age of 14, was overturned in 2003.

However, unlike many other European countries, Austria still has no registered partnership law or same-sex marriage, nor an anti-discrimination act despite the fact that European Union law requires such a statute. Nonetheless, Vienna is the positive exception in Austria, having already passed widespread anti-discrimination legislation, including laws on tenancy and other housing issues.

When it comes to public support of the gay and lesbian community, in many ways Vienna is setting standards for other European cities. One of the most elaborate, and profitable, AIDS charity events in the world, Life Ball, held each May, has reached international popularity since its beginnings in 1993. Vienna's annual pride event Regenbodenparade ("Rainbow Parade"), established in 1996, attracts some 100,000 spectators each June and boasts one of the most spectacular routes down the historic Ringstrasse.

Other glbtq-community events include the art festival Wien ist Andersrum ("Vienna is Queer"), which offers a collection of off-beat cultural performances each year. The Regenbodenball ("Rainbow Ball") is a classic, formal-attire Viennese ball for the gay and lesbian community. The annual Rosenball ("Rose Ball') is a more flamboyant alternative to the traditional Opera Ball.

In 2005, Vienna was ranked third in the world in terms of quality of life by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), based on "personal risk, infrastructure, and the availability of goods and services."

Craig Kaczorowski

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social sciences >> Overview:  Austria

A small German-speaking country in middle Europe, Austria is now home to a thriving glbtq subculture.

social sciences >> Overview:  Budapest

The capital and largest city of Hungary, Budapest is also the hub of Hungarian gay and lesbian life and the center of the country's glbtq political rights movement.

literature >> Overview:  German and Austrian Literature: Before the Nineteenth Century

The treatment of homosexuality in German and Austrian literature was largely negative until the eighteenth century, when the basis was laid for the development of a more positive attitude.

literature >> Overview:  German and Austrian Literature: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

With major periodic setbacks, over the last two centuries German-speaking authors have gradually developed a gay and lesbian positive literature.

social sciences >> Overview:  Nazism and the Holocaust

As part of its agenda to preserve an "Aryan master race," Nazism persecuted homosexuals as "asocial parasites"; more than 100,000 men were arrested on homosexual charges during the Nazi years, with 5,000-15,000 gay men incarcerated in concentration camps.

social sciences >> Freud, Sigmund

The founder of psychoanalysis and the discoverer of the unconscious, Sigmund Freud initiated a fundamental transformation in the self-understanding of Western men and women, including especially the role of sexuality.

social sciences >> Krafft-Ebing, Richard von

The carefully detailed case studies of nineteenth-century psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing shed light on the sexual habits of a wide spectrum of men and women.

social sciences >> Paragraph 175

Paragraph 175 was the German law prohibiting sex between men; strengthened by the Nazis, it was the statue under which homosexuals were sent to concentration camps.

arts >> Schubert, Franz

The question of the homosexuality of Franz Schubert, among the greatest composers of classical music, is a subject of continuing debate.


Brunner, Andreas, and Hannes Sulzenbacher, eds. Schwules Wien (Gay Vienna). Vienna: Promedia, 1998.

Hofmann, Paul. The Viennese: Splendor, Twilight, and Exile. New York: Doubleday, 1988.

Historic Centre of Vienna. UNESCO World Heritage Centre (2001):

Queer Guide, Vienna: Tips for Gay & Lesbian Guests. Vienna: Vienna Tourist Board, 2007:


    Citation Information
    Author: Kaczorowski, Craig  
    Entry Title: Vienna  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2007  
    Date Last Updated September 11, 2007  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2007 glbtq, Inc.  


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