The German parliament has voted to expunge the records
of 50,000 gay men convicted of homosexuality before deciminalisation.
Homosexuality was illegal in Germany from 1871 until the later years of the 20th century. During the Nazi years, the anti-homosexuality laws were more strictly enforced. The ban remained in place after the end of the war.
Paragraph 175 of the country's Criminal Code barred “sexual acts contrary to nature,” placing sex between men on the same level as sex between humans and animals. Sex between two women was not addressed in the law.
The decision by the parliament was unanimous. Men who were convicted and are still living (around 5,000) will receive compensation of €3,000, as well as €1,500 for every year spent in prison due to the convictions.
Axel Hochrein, board member of the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany, said: “This has been a very, very long fight for the rehabilitation of gay men who were convicted in this democratic German state — not in the National Socialist state, but in the democratic German state.”
Richard Evans, a Cambridge professor and German history expert, said that the decision is “one of the last, and very overdue, acts of recognition of the injustices of the Nazi era, doubly welcome because the persecution continued long after Nazism had vanished from the scene.”
Evelyne Paradis, executive director of ILGA-Europe, described the move as a "first step", arguing that more compensation should be given to the men who were affected by the law.
“The convictions had such a huge impact on these men’s lives, on their social inclusion, proper employment," Paradis said, "we hope the government will go further in compensation.”
Earlier this year
, the so-called "Turing's Law" took effect in the UK, which allowed thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted under the UK's historical anti-gay laws to be posthumously pardoned.
The "historic moment" was confirmed by the Ministry of Justice
after the Policing and Crime Bill received Royal Assent from the Queen.
The legislation - first announced last year
- pardons an estimated 49,000 men convicted of consensual same-sex relations before the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967.
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