For decades, sociological, behavioral, and cultural sexuality research has had a name: “Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sozialwissenschaftliche Sexualforschung e. V.” (short: DGSS).
Founded in 1971 by Rolf Gindorf, it is the oldest non-medical sexological society existing in German-language Europe (i. e., Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and parts of Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, France, and Italy). Its governing boards have included many noted scholars. Presidents were Rolf Gindorf (1971-1979), Helmut Kentler (1979-1982), Ernest Borneman (1982-1986), Erwin J. Haeberle (1986-2002), Gunter Runkel (2002-2006), and Jakob Pastötter (2006-).
From the very beginning, the DGSS has emphasized the importance of the social, behavioral, and cultural sciences for an adequate understanding of the human sexualities in their many forms, facets, and variations. In addition to traditional sexological fields like biology, physiology, and medicine, the DGSS focus has centered on the social sciences, psychology, and ethnology, embracing also educational, legal, and historical aspects.
In 1978, the DGSS added a pioneering counseling institute (“DGSS-Institut”) to its scientific and research activities. Since then, more than 31,000 clients received sexual counseling or therapy. Gay, lesbian and bisexual people form the largest group. AIDS counseling and HIV antibody testing has been provided since 1983.
Under difficult circumstances, with habitually low financial resources and extremely modest outside support, the DGSS has nevertheless managed to hold increasingly successful national and international sexological congresses, establishing a close cooperation with most German and many foreign sexological societies. An impressive number of scientific publications, including many books and a book series (Schriftenreihe Sozialwissenschaftliche Sexualforschung, Berlin/New York: W. de Gruyter, since 1986; Münster/Hamburg/ London: LIT Verlag, since 2003) give a fairly adequate impression of sexological research by the DGSS and its members.
Since 1990, the DGSS has been awarding its “Magnus-Hirschfeld-Medals” for Sexual Science and for Sexual Reform. Recipients so far were Ernest Borneman (Austria), John P. DeCecco (U.S.A.), Liu Dalin (China), Jonathan Ned Katz (U.S.A), Milton Diamond (U.S.A), John Money (U.S.A), Martin S. Weinberg (U.S.A.), Richard Green (USA/UK), Hu Peicheng (China), Fang-fu Ruan (China), Pedro de Freitas (Portugal) and Dr. João Décio Ferreira (Portugal) for Sexual Science; Herman Musaph (The Netherlands), Imre Aszódi (Hungary), Ruth Westheimer (U.S.A.), Maj-Briht Bergström-Walan (Sweden), Oswalt Kolle (The Netherlands), Manfred Bruns (Germany), William Granzig (U.S.A), Rolf Gindorf (Germany), Rita Süssmuth (Germany), Robert T. Francoeur (U.S.A.), Norbert Kluge (Germany), Karla Etschenberg (Germany), Sonia Blaso (Argentinia) and Cem Keçe (Turky) for Sexual Reform.
Once the Berlin wall had fallen, the DGSS was able to move its congresses to the original birthplace of sexology, and to resume the tradition of the Berlin sexological conferences started in 1921 by Magnus Hirschfeld.