A Dutch newspaper claims that the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands aggressively tried to “treat” homosexuals during the 1950’s. The idea was simple. Men that showed homosexual tendencies were forced to undergo castration to see if it cured them of their “homosexual feelings.” The news article claims at least ten men were forced to have the procedure performed on them. The allegations are making major waves in the Netherlands, even causing some members of the Dutch Parliament to call for an official inquiry into the situation.
Even more shocking is that the “treatment” was used as a preventive measure for young people that were sexually abused by Catholic priests. One young man reported to police that he had been abused. He turned out to be right, and the clergymen were prosecuted and convicted for the crime. However, this didn’t stop the church from recommending the man’s castration. Even after a stint in a psychiatric hospital ran by the Catholic Church, 20-year-old Henk Heithus was still handed over for forced castration. Can you imagine what this practice did for discouraging snitching? How many young people were abused and wanted help but were afraid to open their mouth for fear of castration?
The issue is getting even uglier because now allegations are being raised that high members of the government were aware and condoned the practice. This included Victor Marijnen, the Dutch Prime Minister from 1963 to 1965. Marijnen rose to his office after being a vice chairman of the Dutch Catholic child protection agency. He actually helped some priests convicted of abuse get out of their sentences by writing letters of recommendation to the Queen.
The reason these half-century old allegations are so inflammatory to the Dutch public is because the Netherlands has a rich background of tolerance, most notably regarding the gay lifestyle. Homosexual acts have been legal since 1811, and the Netherlands was the first nation in the world to make same-sex marriages legal back in 2001. So, the Dutch are notorious for being tolerant of homosexuality in general, and yet, they were going to extraordinary measures to try to cure the “disease” decades ago.
The accusations do not address whether the so-called “treatment” was successful, but more details are sure to come to light as this is becoming a hot-button issue in the Netherlands. It is gathering steam, and an inquiry by the Parliament will open a lot of doors for further investigation. We can’t wait to see what the Vatican has to say to these allegations.