Hubertus Johannes Schouten (January 16, 1865 – 1936) was a Dutch writer. Son of the the well-to-do clergyman Leendert Schouten (founder of the Biblical Museum in Amsterdam), he studied theology, and was appointed as a village parson. He was a prolific writer, initially of anti-Catholic pamphlets under various pseudonyms. His other main interest surfaced in 1891, when he published an article refuting the persistent legend that Jean Calvin was branded on the right shoulder with three French lilies for being a sodomite.
In the first years of the twentieth-century Schouten suffered a nervous breakdown. After being cured, he relinquished his ministry. Possibly a gay self-consciousness started to unfold in these years. About 1904 he learned about the existence of Magnus Hirschfeld and his Scientific-Humanitarian Committee. His article about Calvin was published in the 1905 Jahrbuch für sexuelle Zwischenstufen. Between 1907 and 1914 he published several pseudonymous pamphlets about homosexual issues. In the first, Het ‘Hofschandaal’ te Berlijn (The ‘Court Scandal’ in Berlin), exhibiting his knowledge of homosexuality in the German nobility, he explained legal proceedings around Eulenburg, Moltke and Brand.
In 1910 Schouten moved to Amsterdam. Shortly afterwards, a blackmail press scandal induced the ink in his fountain pen to boil again. Under his new penname, Mr. (meaning Master of Law) G. Helpman, he published Over chanteurs en wat hun sterkte is (About Blackmailers and their Strength), discussing homosexuals as too easy victims of the ‘pissoir-scum’.
Probably Schouten knew what he was writing about. In Amsterdam he met a 16-year-old boy making quite a lot of money as a rent boy. Schouten was ‘intimate’ with him, and then tried to ‘save’ him. The boy's mother and sister, however, seeing their easy income threatened, created a scandal, and turned Schouten over to the police as the boy's seducer. However, no lawsuit took place.
Until 1911 Dutch law did not differentiate between homosexual and heterosexual activity: both were allowed from 16 years onwards. Then, Edmond Regout, the Minister of Justice, proposed a new law: any adult (21 or older) who had sex with someone of his own sex under 21 was to be punished with imprisonment up to four years. When the Dutch parliament was discussing this new morals law, in February 1911, Schouten issued his next pamphlet. It mainly consisted of a long list of homosexual kings, scientists, artists and generals. The majority of the Dutch Lower House, however, accepted the anti-homosexual law. In April, ‘Helpman’/ Schouten sent a second pamphlet to the members of the Upper House, in which Regout, in a clear, sharp style, was accused of ignorance and fanatism. Schouten pointed at the blackmail aspect of the law, and asked aptly ‘if His Excellency perhaps, deep down, applauds the help of the blackmailers in making the homosexuals unhappy?’ Only a few months after Regout's infamous Article 248-bis came into force, Schouten was made an unhappy man indeed. A boy accused him of sexual activity. Schouten could not prove his innocence and fled, probably to Germany. His room was searched and his family harassed. The police appear to have said that ‘imprisonment of “Mr. Helpman” as the first victim of this law would earn the special gratitude of the Minister of Justice’.
This did not stop Schouten from publishing (as Mr. G. Helpman) a pamphlet in November 1911, De Neiging tot het Eigen Geslacht (The Inclination to the Own Sex), a summation of his other pamphlets, which sold widely. It supplied an uncanny insight into Regout's fanatical mind. In 1914 the last Helpman pamphlet was written, an uncharacteristically confused defence against the accusations of sex with minors. And in the same year, under the new pseudonym Mr. H. J. Leendertsz, Schouten issued another pamphlet about the value of child witnesses in court, obviously motivated by his own bitter experience. After this, battle-weary, Schouten returned to The Netherlands. He seems never to have appeared in court, or published other pamphlets. Probably he lived from genealogical research, partly supported by his family.
Schouten had a difficult character, brandishing his pen like a holy sword – but he was able to see through the fanatical Minister of Justice who burdened The Netherlands with an old-fashioned and harmful anti-homosexual law.
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