From the emblem book of English poet, pamphleteer, and satirist George Wither (1588 – 1667).
Artist: Gabrielis Rollenhagii
Punishing Mary Hamilton, alias Charles, George, and William Hamilton, for posing as a man and marrying a woman.
Women disguised themselves as men not only to cover-up lesbianism, but also to have the freedom of movement, to have business, to travel unmolested, and to express themselves assertively, which only men could do.
 Just as any expression of the individual’s free will has to be crushed in order to maintain social structure in which the few dominate the rest of us, so were sexual drives channeled into the institution of Marriage.
At times labeled holy, and still appreciated as a great achievement for both parts of the union, Marriage was the only legal framework for sexual activity.
Bearing in mind that sexual activity resulted in the production of new subordinates (of the father, King, God,) it is easy to understand how come sex and marriage were considered inseparable throughout history.
In this context, any sexual activity that would not result in procreation was punishable by law, being deemed ‘unnatural’.
This twisting of concepts got a major boost from Paul the Apostle, nearly 2000 years ago. In a breathtaking contortion of concepts and words, Paul the Apostle, in his Letter to Romans, managed to blind and confuse his readers, for generations to come.
Paul cunningly uses the accepted role of women as properties of their husbands, to demonstrate that just as a woman can become another man’s property upon the death of her previous owner, so does the death of Christ releases the Jews from their chains to ‘that God’ and thus they may have no scruples accepting the rule of the new one, Christ.
Paul’s letter was religiously cited to define which sexual acts were acceptable and which were not.
It is consistent with the Patriarchal trend that he blames it all on women, even bestiality and homosexuality. (1:26 “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their females changed the natural use into one contrary to nature.”)
In this respect it is somewhat comical to note that Lesbianism wasn’t recognised as a crime in many countries for many centuries. Only after 1550 do we find sexual acts between women listed among other unnatural acts in legal statutes, with death as the appropriate measure. But not all statutes include female-female acts in the list of no-no’s. It was more the cross-dressing and women getting married with each other that threatened the delicate fibre of society, than the fact that women were having some harmless fun.
Still there were cases of women brought to trial and perishing all over Europe, with Holland somewhat lagging: The Sodomy bill was only introduced there in 1730, and women were not even mentioned in it. This might explain the current-day Dutch tolerance to sexual diversions.
Another point of interest is that Queen Victoria removed any references to women in the Labouchere Amendment (Clause 11) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, which outlawed oral sex between men. Common knowledge is that Queen Victoria could not believe that women "would do such things." Buggery, or anal sex between men, was already illegal, and the punishment was Death.
Only in 1967, with the Sexual Offences Act, was homosexual behaviour partially decriminalised.