This paper examines the multiple prosecutions and appeals of Victor van Alten, who was accused of “indecent conduct contrary to nature” (Paragraph 175) with men in German Southwest Africa. The essay examines the complicated interpretations surrounding the vague law, clarifying what the boundaries of “indecent” were and what “contrary to nature” meant. While Paragraph 175 is somewhat well known, the paper also goes into the effect that Paragraph 51 had on prosecutions. Paragraph 51 was the paragraph that gave medical authorities significant discretion over incidents where the perpetrator was affected by”a pathological disturbance of his mental ability, such that the free determination of the will was excluded.”
“Widernaturliche Unzucht! Paragraph 175 in Deutsch-Südwestafrika,” in Crimes of Passion: Repräsentationen der Sexualpathologie im frühen 20. Jahrhundert, eds. Japhet Johnstone and Oliver Böni (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015), 277-300.