Throughout the nineteenth century, significant transformations took place in the understanding of Western homosexuality, shifting from the domain of criminal law to that of medical science. This article explores the role of European legal thought in laying the groundwork for such changes, particularly starting from the mid-eighteenth century. Examining the contributions of the Roman jurist Filippo Maria Renazzi (1745–1808), this research emphasizes his role among the thinkers who lived through the transition from the European ius commune tradition to the era of criminal codes. Renazzi, a conservative university professor in papal Rome, not unfamiliar with Enlightenment discussions, penned a successful criminal treatise in Latin between 1773 and 1786. His expertise was also in demand during the subsequent development of the criminal code for the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy. By focusing on the figure of Renazzi, still not extensively studied, this article attempts to shed light on the transition towards the general decriminalization of non-reproductive carnal offenses, including sodomy. In the new penal code project, only acts committed against the will of others and public order remained generically condemned. This underscored the indifference of criminal law towards penalizing behavior that medicine would subsequently come to recognize as an inherent identity.

From sodomy to homosexuality: the role of criminal law in Filippo Maria Renazzi’s Rome between the Enlightenment and the Napoleonic Era

Scaramella, Tommaso
2024-01-01

Abstract

Throughout the nineteenth century, significant transformations took place in the understanding of Western homosexuality, shifting from the domain of criminal law to that of medical science. This article explores the role of European legal thought in laying the groundwork for such changes, particularly starting from the mid-eighteenth century. Examining the contributions of the Roman jurist Filippo Maria Renazzi (1745–1808), this research emphasizes his role among the thinkers who lived through the transition from the European ius commune tradition to the era of criminal codes. Renazzi, a conservative university professor in papal Rome, not unfamiliar with Enlightenment discussions, penned a successful criminal treatise in Latin between 1773 and 1786. His expertise was also in demand during the subsequent development of the criminal code for the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy. By focusing on the figure of Renazzi, still not extensively studied, this article attempts to shed light on the transition towards the general decriminalization of non-reproductive carnal offenses, including sodomy. In the new penal code project, only acts committed against the will of others and public order remained generically condemned. This underscored the indifference of criminal law towards penalizing behavior that medicine would subsequently come to recognize as an inherent identity.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5063402
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