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Dutch Catholic Authorities Alleged to Have Treated Gays With Castration

Dutch Catholic Authorities Alleged to Have Treated Gays With Castration

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Reports have emerged that in the 1950s, Dutch Roman Catholic authorities approved the surgical castration of at least 10 boys and young men to "cure" them of homosexuality.

The Netherlands newspaper NRC Handelsblad has identified one of them, a youth named Henk Heithus, who in 1956 told police he had suffered sexual abuse perpetrated by priests in a church-run group home. Then 20 years old, he was castrated "as a treatment for homosexuality and also as a punishment for those who accused clergy of sexual abuse," according to an English-language report in London's Telegraph. He died two years later in an automobile accident.

Joep Dohmen, the journalist who wrote the NRC Handelsblad article, said he has identified at least nine other cases of castration ordered by the Catholic church. "These cases are anonymous and can no longer be traced," the Telegraph quoted him as saying. "There will be many more. But the question is whether those boys, now old men, will want to tell their story."

A church-appointed commission investigating sexual abuse by Catholic clergy since 1945 received information about Heithuis's castration from an acquaintance of his, prominent sculptor Cornelius Rogge, but did not look into the case further, citing a lack of leads, and did not include it in its official report, published three months ago. Members of the Dutch parliament now want that body to launch an inquiry, and some observers, alleging silence on the matter was politically motivated, do as well. Writes Radio Netherlands Worldwide reporter Robert Chesal: "There must now be an impartial inquiry whose integrity is beyond doubt. Only parliament can fulfill this role."

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.