Germany Votes To Wipe Gay Men’s Historical Sex Convictions


Germany’s parliament has voted to quash the convictions of thousands of gay men sentenced for homosexuality under a Nazi-era law which remained in force after World War II.

The law will clear the names of gay men who were charged under Article 175 of the country’s penal code, which outlawed “sexual acts contrary to nature,” specifically targeting gay men.

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Thousands of men who were convicted of homosexuality under the Nazi regime had their convictions overturned in 2002, but after the war tens of thousands more were persecuted from 1949 until homosexuality was fully decriminalised nationwide in 1994. It’s estimated 5,000 of the men found guilty under the law are still alive.

The government has said it will give men convicted under the law compensation of 3,000 euros ($AU4,434) plus an additional 1,500 euros for every year they served in prison. The government will also give 500,000 euros ($AU739,0000) to a foundation to document the stories of men convicted under Article 175.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the decision was a “belated act of justice” and the laws “created unimaginable suffering, which led to self-denial, sham marriages, harassment and blackmail,” Deutsche Welle reported.

The legislation passed unanimously through the country’s Bundestag, but faces another vote in the German parliament’s upper house.

In February, UK laws came into effect automatically pardoning deceased men with similar convictions and allowing living men to apply to have theirs quashed.

New Zealand has also announced plans to pardon men with such convictions, and several Australian states, including Queensland, are working on similar expungement schemes.