Over 5000 years ago, the first civilization began to emerge in the historical region known as Mesopotamia (literally “between two rivers”), as this territory was between the Tigris and Euphrates. Currently it corresponds to Iraq and a part of Syria. This first civilization known as Sumeria is 2,500 years older than the Greek culture.
Historians and archaeologists have discovered that homosexual relationships existed in Sumeria, both between young and adult men. In some of the earliest writings of mankind there are references to priests called “assinu” literally “womb man”, which is the term that refers to male homosexuals. Surely, these men possessed a high social status.
In the famous epic hero poem “Gilgamesh”, a legendary character of Sumerian and other later Mesopotamian cultures, appears a gay relationship with one of his best mates, Enkidu.
In one of the later dominant civilizations of Mesopotamia, Babylonia, appear many more historical records of the existence of homosexuality. In fact, the expert Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat in her book “Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia” believes that homosexual relationships were common and not condemned.
The close relationship between the Mesopotamian religion, and some sexual practices, and even religious prostitution, make evident that homosexuality was accepted. The Sumerian Shumma Alu omens refer to “assinu” and male prostitution as follows: “If a man has sex with an “assinu”, he will be free of misfortune”.