On Boy-Love - Paedophilia: Historical and Scientific Perspectives

Brunoz, O.
Type of WorkEssay
Publication LanguageEng, Du, Fr

Editor's Notes (Ipce)

(1) The following text is the first translation into English of the Dutch book Pedofilie, published in 1960. It was written as a response to a controversy within the gay movement in the late 1950s as to whether or not to remove boy-lovers and paedophiles from the Dutch gay rights organization, COC. The book was published in two editions, Dutch and French:

  • O. Brunoz, Pedofilie (Amsterdam: C.O.C., 1960) and
  • O. Brunoz, La Pedophilie: L'amour des garcons, with a preface by Victor Servatius (Rotterdam: Enclave, 1964).

(2) Note that the author defines 'boy' as "a sexually mature non-adult. The reader will do well to keep this definition in mind, ...". Thus, what he calls 'paedophilia' is not attraction to the prepubescent child - especially boy - but to the pubescent and adolescent boy - just that what we nowadays give the name 'hebephilia'.


The goal of the present work is, however, more modest, namely to arrive at a better understanding of the phenomenon so that the reader will be that much better able to form a judgment.

We shall first have to ask why it is so difficult for any of us to maintain a balanced attitude when the subject is broached. It is clearly necessary to approach the subject with the utmost caution and not to be carried away by our emotions. We shall also have to ask whether or not, and to what degree, the censorious arguments usually put forward are valid. If such arguments cannot be maintained in the face of scientific evidence, we shall then have room to show that there are, in fact, both favorable and unfavorable aspects to boy-love, a conclusion that might have been expected from a phenomenon capable of arousing in mankind's greatest thinkers and leaders a range of reactions from horror to glorification.

The object of this work is, therefore, to assemble facts and information. It is not an attempt to arrive at a comprehensive moral and ethical assessment. We have deliberately not asked whether it is even permissible for a man to approach a boy sexually; such a question can only be decided within the context of a well-defined system of sexual morality, and as long as the reader and author disagree about this system, no rewarding discussion between them is possible.

We have here devoted ourselves primarily to a discussion of the influence on the boy, and possible benefits or harm, of such a sexual relationship. Thus, we do not delve deeply into the many theories attempting to explain how the man's erotic feelings become directed towards boys. For our purposes, it makes no difference whether a person is born a paedophile or acquires this sexual desire through social influences later in life. Neither does it matter whether this tendency is "curable" or unchangeable. It is only the mutual, erotic relationship between the boy-lover and the boy which we shall set out now to describe as clearly as we can.


The purpose of this study was to bring to light various aspects of paedophilia, and to point out how difficult a phenomenon it is to assess. It must again be stressed that before we are able to discuss the moral aspects, it is necessary to agree on both the circumstances of paedophile relationships and the principles of sexual ethics as a whole. That is still a long way off.

Aside from the question of whether or not sexual activities between boys and men will ever win ethical acceptance, I believe, as expressed in the preceding pages, that paedophile relationships do exist which are largely or wholly lacking in favorable aspects and therefore destined to exert a bad influence on the boy. But I also believe that the importance of harm is exaggerated, and the bad effects very often are not the result of the usually mentioned causes.

It has surely been proven by various experts, from ancient Greece onwards, that there are paedophile sexual relationships which either totally, or almost totally, do no harm. If it becomes possible to accept these ethically as positive relationships or at least, making an analogy with pubertal masturbation, as a more or less harmless practice, then it is also possible to argue that they could be a source of happiness and benefit to both man and boy. I do not presume to answer the questions I have raised, or even to suggest the answers. I only hope that I have succeeded in opening the discussion.

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