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.