Life does not seem to be easy to people with unconventional sexual orientation. The general public, relatives and acquaintances condemn and humiliate homosexual individuals nearly every day. However, Italian mafia mobsters are the ones who suffer from this problem most.
Mafia is a closed community with very conservative views. Anyone who stands out from the group will have severe problems, including death. The heads of Italian mafia clans fear publicity most. There is nothing more hideous for a godfather than being ridiculed by his subordinates.
US gangsters are somewhat more loyal to their colleagues’ predilections, although they do not welcome homosexual liaisons in their environment either. For example, it became known in 2003 that a mafia clan lynched one of their companions who had been tempted into bad ways. A mobster testified at court that they had preferred to keep the story a secret not to wash the dirty linen in public, although the story was later included in an episode of The Sopranos series.
Ten years before that, in 1992, the boss of DeCalvacante clan, John D’Amato, aka Johnny Boy, was shot dead by his colleagues. Rumor had it that D’Amato was involved in homosexual affairs. Even his authority was unable to save him from a bullet.
The body of gangster laws was exposed at the end of 2007. It was purely incidental: the police found the list of laws written on only one page when searching the house of Salvatore lo Piccolo, a Sicilian mafioso also known as the Baron.
Homosexuality has been a feature of human culture since earliest history (see History section below). Generally and most famously in ancient Greece, certain forms of erotic attraction and sexual pleasure between males were often an ingrained, accepted part of the cultural norm. Particular sexual activities (such as anal sex in some cultures, or oral sex in others), however, were disapproved of, even as other aspects were admired. In cultures under the sway of Abrahamic religions, the law and the church established sodomy as a transgression against divine law, a "crime against nature" practiced by choice, and subject to severe penalties, up to capital punishment—often inflicted by means of fire so as to purify the unholy action. The condemnation of penetrative sex between males, however, predates Christian dogma, as it was frequent in Ancient Greece, whence the theme of action "against nature," traceable to Plato, originated.
In the course of the twentieth century, homosexuality became a subject of considerable study and debate in Western societies, especially after the modern gay rights movement began in 1969. Once viewed by authorities as a pathology or mental illness to be cured, homosexuality is now more often investigated as part of a larger impetus to understand the biology, psychology, politics, genetics, history and cultural variations of sexual practice and identity. The legal and social status of people who engage in homosexual acts or identify as gay or lesbian varies enormously across the world and in places remains hotly contested in political and religious debate.
In many cultures, homosexual people are frequently subject to prejudice and discrimination. Like many other minority groups that are the objects of prejudice, they are also subject to stereotyping. Gay men are seen as effeminate and fashionable, often identified with a lisp or a female-like tone and lilt. They are stereotyped as being promiscuous and unsuccessful in developing enduring romantic relationships, despite research to the contrary. Gay men are also often alleged as having pedophiliac tendencies and more likely to commit child sexual abuse than the heterosexual male population, a view rejected by mainstream psychiatric groups and contradicted by research. Lesbians are seen as butch, and sometimes "man-haters" or radical feminists.
Homosexuality has at times been used as a scapegoat by governments facing problems. For example, during the early 14th century, accusations of homosexual behavior were instrumental in disbanding the Knights Templar under Philip IV of France, who profited greatly from confiscating the Templars' wealth. In the 20th century, Nazi Germany's persecution of homosexual people was based on the proposition that they posed a threat to "normal" masculinity as well as a risk of contamination to the "Aryan race".