GERMANY: Parliament Annuls Nazi-Era Convictions For Homosexuality, Offers Compensation To Survivors

Germany’s The Local reports:

Germany’s parliament voted Thursday to quash the convictions of 50,000 gay men sentenced for homosexuality under a Nazi-era law which remained in force after the war and offer compensation.

After decades of lobbying, victims and activists hailed a triumph in the struggle to clear the names of gay men who lived with a criminal record under Article 175 of the penal code.

An estimated 5,000 of those found guilty under the statute are still alive. The measure overwhelmingly passed the Bundestag lower house of parliament, where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling right-left coalition enjoys a large majority.

It offers gay men convicted under the law a lump sum of €3,000 as well as an additional €1,500 for each year they spent in prison. Germany’s Article 175 outlawed “sexual acts contrary to nature… be it between people of the male gender or between people and animals”.

More from Deutsche Welle:

The criminalization of homosexuality in Germany, known as Paragraph 175, was written in Nazi Germany, where homosexuals were persecuted and murdered. West Germany retained the law unchanged after the war. Communist East Germany effectively removed Paragraph 175 from its laws in the late 1950s.

West Germany’s criminal code was reformed in 1969, but paragraph 175 wasn’t completely stricken until 1994, four years after German reunification. Female homosexuality, meanwhile, has never been illegal in Germany.

The decision was also welcomed by Germany’s LGBT community. Lawmaker Helmut Metzner, who sits on the federal board of the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany, described the decision as a “historic step forward.” “After many long years of ignorance, a portion of the victims of state persecution have been given their dignity back,” Metzner said.

However, the ruling did stoke some criticism. Metzner said the financial compensation was too small and failed to take into account that victims had been ostracized from society and fired from their jobs. Those effects were still being felt in pension payments.

  • Bj Lincoln

    Another country taking another step toward making things right for LGBT people. In the mean time, our current administration is slowly erasing us federally and states are filing one bill after another to discriminate against us. So much for equality in America.

    • That_Looks_Delicious

      It is weird how different departments seem to just be blowing off the WH and doing their own thing. Then again, Trump doesn’t really seem to care either way, but I know Pence cares.

    • Skokieguy [Larry]

      Wow,, this is one story I have never heard. Thank you so much for posting.

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    • Skokieguy [Larry]

      More from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum

      https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/idcard.php?ModuleId=10006538

    • narutomania

      Powerful last words. It brings tears to my eyes to read about this, and to think that countless thousands were sentenced to death by a regime that is slowly being mirrored in my own country 70 years later.

    • Mike Knife

      He was a great gay man who sacrificed his life so that others could live, we need more like him today.

  • Now how about marriage equality for those gay men who are alive today in Germany…

  • SoCalGal20

    Excellent news.

  • SoCalGal20

    OT but BIG news from WaPo. CIA caught Putin’s instructions – defeat Clinton and help elect Trump.

    https://twitter.com/washingtonpost/status/878208772832976896

    • The New Paige Turner™

      Here we go……..

      • That_Looks_Delicious

        “Fake news. Sad. Why didn’t Hillary stop the baseball game shooter? Did you see how low Megyn Kelly’s rating were?”

        • Todd20036

          Actually, I’m ok with Kelly’s low ratings. What a suckup

    • Gustav2

      But for the direct Putin order interception, it is what we have all pieced together from different reports, but this time the quotes from Intel and Obama administration officials are attributed.

    • That_Looks_Delicious

      I’ve been thinking about this a lot since that Rick Wiles statement praising Russia. I think the religious right knows that the gig is up, and they’re switching tactics from defending Trump from treason accusations to defending the very concept of Russian interference as if it was a good thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Evangelicals were the conduit through which Putin was able to gain access to the GOP. This has actually been brewing under the radar for quite a while.
      http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/why-religious-right-shares-trumps-putin-crush
      http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/12/why-the-christian-right-shares-trumps-affection-for-putin.html
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankschaeffer/2016/09/heres-why-the-american-patriotic-evangelical-religious-right-now-supports-the-murdererfascist-america-hating-thug-putin/
      http://www.politicalresearch.org/2016/01/07/franklin-graham-falwell-prodigy-putin-lover-and-trump-fan/

      But then, if I think about the implications of this too long, I get a feeling in my stomach like looking down a 300-ft. drop.

      • Gustav2

        Traitors have always tried to justified their positions.

      • The_Wretched

        Good noticing.

        My local right wing russia-apologist has also switched into “everyone does hacking” “it’s ok to get hacked” “Donny the Unfit is the Dem’s fault” (that last one floors me, The people who do thing-A shoulder the blame for thing-A, other people who fail to stop thing-A might be complicit or ineffectual or have some blame but they don’t have the primary blame).

      • BobSF_94117

        Of course America’s religious right thinks Russian interference is a good thing. After all, Russia is run by corrupt rich people who have given conservative religion a free hand to suck up money and run people’s lives. The Baptists here have to adjust to allying themselves with men who wear long, black dresses and funny hats, but it’s not that big a leap.

      • SoCalGal20

        Makes sense.

  • That_Looks_Delicious

    Wonderful. Also from Germany today – the SPD is making marriage equality a non-negotiable condition for entering into any coalition. This is in addition to the German Green Party which set a similar condition a few days ago. Unless the conservatives get enough seats to form a government all by themselves, it looks like Germany will finally be getting marriage equality.

    • ospalh

      Merkel’s party, the CDU, aren’t really opposed, either. At least large parts of the party. It’s mostly the CSU, the Bavarian variant of the CDU that are against marriage for all.

      • Kruhn

        That’s why I say call a free vote Angela and get on with it.

        • ospalh

          The Greens tried this. It was shot down by the Constitutional Court just last week, when they decided that the CDU/CSU not allowing a vote was OK.

          • Kruhn

            But if the CDU/CUE does it, would it pass constitutional muster as it would come from The Government?

          • ospalh

            Sure. But the CDU is not *for* it. Just not too opposed. As in, if a coalition partner would demand it, they would go along, and demand something else in return.
            Now there won’t happen anything until after the next election in September, as Merkel doesn’t want to anger the CSU.

          • ospalh

            I’m glad to have been proven wrong on the last point.

    • Kruhn

      It won’t happen. The only time the CDU/CSU had an absolute majority was in the first West German parliament.

      We have not heard from the Free Democrats and though they’re currently out of Parliament (getting 4.8% of the vote, just under the 5% limit to get into Parliament), they could get back in and they’re the CDU/CSU’s traditional partners. They’re what I’d call “Libertarian Lite” as they’re not as rabid as our American versions, so theoretically they should be pro marriage equality. The Free Democrats former leader Guido Westerle is gay, but they could negotiate away marriage equality for power.

      I wonder if the SPD will be willing to sacrifice marriage equality in order to remain in power as the junior partner to the CDU/CSU? What if the CDU/CSU loses 6 seats to the SPD with the current parties. Does the SPD break a German taboo and form a coalition with the Greens and The Left (aka the former East German Communists and currently the Official Opposition). It has happened in one German state, but it is considered taboo.

      The other wild card is the far right, ultra nationalist/racist/anti-immigrant, and probably Trump and Putin’s bitch boys, which is definitely another politically toxic party. You can enter into the German Bundestag as a party group either by getting 5% of the vote (the AfD got 4.7% of the vote, a tad under the 5% line and just a bit over 27,000 votes below the Free Democrats) or getting 3 MPs directly elected which will allow you to get the 3 MPs plus the proportion of MPs you get based on the vote. That could mean 25-30 seats for the AfD if they win 3 directly-elected seats and kept their 4.7% share of the vote.

      These elections could create some weird results and perhaps even stranger bedfellows than the CDU/CSU-SPD shotgun marriage they’ve had for the past four years. The only good news is that once a German government is formed, the only way you can bring it down is by coming up with your own alternate, which has only happened once in modern German politics.

      • ospalh

        “Guido [Westerwelle] is gay”
        Well. was.
        It looks like i have the sad duty to inform you that Westerwelle succumbed to leukaemia in 2016.

        • Kruhn

          When I first read Guido Westerwelle was gay, I started thinking Don’t tell me he went ex-gay on us . Although since he left us, I guess this is the only valid time ex-gay applies.

          Dammit! I used to be more knowledgeable of European politics. I need to read more!

    • ospalh

      Now the FDP has joined in.
      With the Left being for it as well, that leaves only Merkel’s Union (CDU/CSU) and the AfD (the far right) being against it. Hey Angela. I’ve got an idea how you can put some distance between your party and those shunned right wingers…

  • Rex

    The phrase “better late than never” comes to mind, so it’s good to hear them do the right thing, but it should have been done long before this.

  • OdieDenCO

    everything enacted under the nazi regime should have been annulled at the end of the war just as we should annul everything enacted under donny’s regime when he is convicted.

    • Silver Badger

      Convicted, impeached, assassinated, whatever. When the asshole is gone, so will be every trace of his stolen presidency,

    • Craig Howell

      The law against male homosexuality was enacted long before the Nazis came to power. Repealing that law was a major focus for Magnus HIrschfeld and his associates. That pre-existing law was the reason why some men with the pink triangle were kept in prison even after the camps were liberated.

      • Randy503

        io

  • Ninja0980

    This is a great move to right past wrongs.
    Speaking of which, how about you pass marriage equality?

  • Silver Badger

    It’s about damn time.

  • Tawreos

    The law should never have been on the books, but I am glad the victims of it have received some measure of justice at last.

  • greenmanTN

    There really hasn’t been a lot written about the Nazi persecution of gay men, at least that I’ve seen. The play Bent obviously, and 2 or 3 autobiographical accounts. One obvious reason for this is that, after being released, these men didn’t want other people to know why they were placed in a camp since homosexuality, under Paragraph 175, was still illegal.

    I think one of the most horrific things I’ve ever read is that after the Concentration Camps were liberated, SOME “pink triangle” prisoners were not liberated, they were transferred to regular prisons because being gay was a crime.

    • Friday

      Yeah, that was like the one thing they decided the Nazis weren’t full of shit about? Appalling.

      A lot of people forget that once they can stigmatize and persecute LGBT people, nothing says the accusations even have to be *true* if authoritarians find you inconvenient.

      • narutomania

        Precisely. It is so easy to pass laws that essentially make a whole sector of society illegal. Or non-citizens.

        • Friday

          And then, just like with witch hunts, simply accuse anyone you feel like of being part of that group or imaginary group.

    • Beagle

      I don’t know if The Pink Triangle by Richard Plant is still in print — I bought my copy back in the late ’80s or early ’90s. But it’s worth checking out if you’re interested in more on the subject.

      • greenmanTN

        I did read that though it was many years ago.

    • Beagle

      I don’t know if The Pink Triangle by Richard Plant is still in print — I bought my copy back in the late ’80s or early ’90s. But it’s worth checking out if you’re interested in more on the subject.

    • Beagle

      I don’t know if The Pink Triangle by Richard Plant is still in print — I bought my copy back in the late ’80s or early ’90s. But it’s worth checking out if you’re interested in more on the subject.

    • Pucks yer Mackd

      Here where I work we start a gay group, one of the HR ladies sincerely said we should have our logo embroidered on our sleeve. I quickly stopped her and explained the pink triangle. Most have never heard this! I thought it common knowledge.

      • greenmanTN

        I wouldn’t like that either. Starting at about 20 years old I have been openly gay in the workplace. I’m just not a Grand Gesture kind of guy. I never announced it, but also didn’t bother to hide it. If never talking about how “hot” some woman is, had no interest in how “our team”is doing leading up to the finals, like to draw and paint weren’t enough I would confide in the biggest gossip in the office and sure as shit, the next day I was openly gay.

        I have faced outright homophobia in the workplace a few times, but I stood up for myself. (Oh god, the first time I had to do that my voice was shaking so bad I had a vibrato.)

        I’m also not one of those people who say being gay is just a tiny part of me or doesn’t define me. It really doesn’t define me but I think that is a rather defensive statement, implies that being a gay man doesn’t mean I can’t do woodworking or whatever.

        But I would hate being branded by some badge or something that implies “Hi, I’m gay

        My experience as a gay man is one of the prisms through which I view life, so while it doesn’t define me, it’s also not non-important or negligible. I also wouldn’t want to wear a badge or something as if should be the first thing someone needs to know about you, primary to all your other skills or qualities.

    • Randy503

      There has been a lot, actually. I saw a doc called, Paragraph 175 many years ago at the Washington DC Reel Affirmations festival. I have a book, “Homophobia” which writes extensivly about this. The Holocaust museum had an exhibition about all this too.

      It’s all out there, but you do have to hunt for it.

      • greenmanTN

        I’m not saying it has never been written about and that the information isn’t out there if you want to look for it, just there is comparatively less written about it.

        I’ve actually read at least 3 books about it, including “I, Pierre Seel,” one of the survivors.

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Seel

        Some of Christopher Isherwood’s writing touches on the prologue if not the results or the aftermath.

        I forget which book it came from, Pink Triangle or another, but according to at least one account at one camp the gay prisoners were told to move a pile of stones from one place to another, then when that was done to move them back to the original spot. It served no purpose other than to amuse the Camp guards. Meanwhile, it was perfectly acceptable for the guards to shoot at them, use them as target practice as the moved back and forth.

        I did not mean to imply nothing has been written. What I’m trying to get at is there are few personal narratives that allow you to viscerally connect with their experiences, so it all becomes figures and statistics. There was no gay Anne Frank to put with a dimestic, real life context.

        It seems like a new account of Jewish life during the Holocaust comes out every month, and I’m not complaining, just pointing out that there are relatively few accounts by gay men in comparison.

        http://www.salon.com/2002/04/03/mirroring_evil/

        • Randy503

          Sure — I wasn’t arguing with you — just wanted to let people know that there is information out there. We are fortunate that much of this is well documented.

  • Dana Chilton

    Paragraph 175 was not written under nazi Germany. It was around during the Weimar Republic

  • ospalh

    Two notes:
    ⒈This is about post-war convictions, especially in the FRG (1949–) era. Where the Bundestag was responsibly.
    ⒉The “between people and animals” bit was the Weimar Republic version, not in §175 from 1935 on. (Maybe illegal under another number.) See http://lexetius.com/StGB/175 for historic versions. (In German, obviously.)

  • unsavedheathen

    So the absolute youngest possible gay survivor of the Nazis should be in his mid to late 80’s. How generous of the Germans to wait so long to give so little to so few.

    • ospalh

      As i said, this was about the post war convictions. The Nazi convictions were annulled earlier, 2002, i think.
      They still waited for ~ 90 % of the people to die, didn’t compensate people for getting fired and a few other nasty details. The left-wing taz newspaper wasn’t impressed.

  • Statistics Palin

    Too little too late.

    • Jean-Marc in Canada

      And the U.S. has done what in this regard?

  • More on this over at the Holocaust Museum section on Persecution of Homosexuals. (I show some highlights)
    – An estimated 1.2 million men were homosexuals in Germany in 1928. Between 1933-45, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested as homosexuals, and of these, some 50,000 officially defined homosexuals, overwhelmingly men were sentenced, Lesbians were often designated as prostitutes
    -Designated Homosexuals were overwhelmingly German or Austrian, gay jews and other non-“aryan” minorities were simply sent for extermination to concentration camps.
    -Most homosexuals were held in regular local prisons, up to 15,000 were sent to concentration camps like Auschwitz, up to 60% were murdered.
    -Many homosexuals were marked for medical experiments by the SS to see if they could be made “straight”, including castration and testosterone capsules
    -Charges of Homosexuality were often used against the Catholic priesthood since the Nazis saw them as their greatest political enemy within Germany.
    -As someone here writes, “The 1935 version of Paragraph 175 remained in effect in the Federal Republic (West Germany) until 1969, so that well after liberation, homosexuals continued to fear arrest and incarceration”
    More here-
    https://www.ushmm.org/learn/students/learning-materials-and-resources/homosexuals-victims-of-the-nazi-era/persecution-of-homosexuals

  • Randy503

    “Let’s just wait until most of them are gone, and then express our ‘sincere’ regrets.”

    • nocadrummer

      Don’t forget, “thoughts and prayers”!

  • Jean-Marc in Canada

    While I agree it is a good thing and rather late, I find myself rather amused at some of the comments here given that the U.S. has yet to even come close to doing this for those harmed during the purges. Just noting.

  • No More GOP.

    I suppose this is a good gesture…

  • Canadian Observer

    Very questionably researched article. Paragraph 175 was brought in in 1871 (contrary to the article’s assertion it was written during the Nazi era – it was grossly expanded in the Nazi era, but forms of the Paragraph existed before the Nazis and the 1935 version was retained after the Nazis). It also glosses over the numbers affected, some 50,000 being imprisoned between 1946 and 1969, and an additional ~4,250 between 1970 and the final abolition of the Paragraph in 1994 (44 convictions in the final year). Still, good news about the convictions being rescinded and some form of compensation being made.

  • Mike Knife

    Psychiatrist say they no longer treat LGBTQ people like they are mentally ill. That is a lie, stop them before they kill another LGBTQ person. ..

  • SDG

    I am surprised they didn’t wait another 10 years to make sure that they were all dead?