chapter
Russia
Pages 15

Medieval Russia was apparently very tolerant of homosexuality. There is evidence of homosexual love in some of the lives of the saints from Kievan Rus dating to the eleventh century. Homosexual acts were treated as a sin by the Orthodox Church, but there were no legal sanctions against them at the time, and even churchmen seemed perturbed by homosexuality only in the monasteries. Foreign visitors to Muscovite Russia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries repeatedly express their amazement at the open displays of homosexual affection among men of every class. Sigismund von Heberstein, Adam Olearius, Juraj Krizhanich, and George Turberville all write about the prevalence of homosexuality in Russia in their travel and memoir literature. Nineteenth-century historian Sergey Soloviev writes that “nowhere, either in the Orient or in the West, was this vile, unnatural sin taken as lightly as in Russia.”