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Hastings Women’s Law Journal

Abstract

The recent conflict over the exhibition of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., is the latest example of attempts to censor the portrayal of homosexual existence. Throughout history, legal and informal barriers, such as refusal to publish or display, have prevented gay men and lesbian women from representing their understanding and experience of homosexuality through art and literature. The use of the law to censor these works, whether by obscenity statutes or legislation designed to inhibit the financing of such works, even when unsuccessful, has potentially far reaching effects on societal perception of homosexuality and may have a chilling effect on those who wish to create or publish works depicting homosexual existence.

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