Germany to compensate ‘gay’ prisoners
Cologne Gay Pride 2016.
Germany is putting forward legislation to compensate men convicted under the hated Paragraph 175 of the criminal code, which jailed homosexuals.
Around 5,000 victims of the law are still living while others took their lives because of the stigma.
If the legislation is enacted as expected, they will be able to claim €3,000 in compensation, plus an additional €1,500 for each year they spent in jail.
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the process was overdue.
“The rehabilitation of men who were brought up before the courts solely because of their homosexuality is long overdue,” Maas said. “They were pursued, punished and reviled by the German state just because of their love of other men, because of their sexual identity.”
Paragraph 175 was added in 1871, but it was rarely enforced until the Nazi regime expanded it to outlaw all homosexual acts between men. The law was retained in both West and East Germany after 1945.
Approximately 54,000 men were convicted in West Germany under Paragraph 175 between 1945 and 1994, when it was removed from the criminal code. Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1969.
In 2000, the German parliament approved a resolution expressing regret that Paragraph 175 was retained after 1945.
Victims of the legislation under the Nazis were legally rehabilitated in 2002, but those convicted after 1945 have not received similar pardons.
The Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany spokesman Helmut Metzner said the group “welcomes the fact that, after long decades of ignorance, legal consequences are being drawn from the serious mass human rights violations that were committed against homosexual people by the democratic state”.
The planned legal rehabilitation will be automatic and would not require applications, although victims would have to apply to prosecutors if they wanted formal certification. The reform excludes those convicted for homosexual activity with children or for acts involving violence or threats.
It also will apply to men convicted in East Germany, which had a milder version of Paragraph 175 until homosexuality was decriminalised in 1968.
About 4,300 men are thought to have been prosecuted in the Communist satellite state. In all, around 68,300 people were convicted under Paragraph 175, in differing forms, in both German states before 1994.
Berlin’s decision comes months after the UK said it was pardoning 65,000 gay and bisexual men who were convicted under the Sexual Offences Act that criminalised private homosexual acts in England and Wales until 1967 and later in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Picture credit: Wikimedia