For Gay Men Who Suffered Under Paragraph 175, Justice

Germany to lift convictions handed out in post-war years
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2016 7:33 AM CDT
For Gay Men Who Suffered Under Paragraph 175, Justice
The word "homophobia" is written on a wall of the German Historical Museum in Berlin on June 24, 2015.   (Paul Zinken/dpa via AP)

Paragraph 175 died in 1994, but it's taken another 22 years for those who suffered under it to find justice. Germany has announced that the tens of thousands of gay men convicted under Paragraph 175 will see that conviction annulled and may receive compensation. The Guardian has a timeline of the law, which established homosexuality as a crime: Born in 1872, the law was embraced by Nazis some 50 years later; the New York Times reports 100,000 men were charged under the Nazis, with half ending up in prison and as many as 15,000 sent to concentration camps, where a pink triangle was affixed to their uniform. When the war ended, the law did not.

More than 50,000 men were convicted under it between 1946 and 1969 when homosexuality was decriminalized, and a few thousand more even after that in West Germany. The Nazi-era convictions were lifted at the turn of the 21st century, but there was no post-war relief until Wednesday's announcement by Justice Minister Heiko Maas, which "amounted to an apology," reports the Times. He said in part, "Paragraph 175 was from the very beginning unconstitutional. The old convictions are unjust [and] do huge injury to the human dignity of each convicted man." Wednesday brought one more big step forward for gays: Italy's Parliament voted 372 to 51 to recognize same-sex civil unions, reports the Times, which frames Italy as having been "perhaps the most prominent exception" among the Western nations that had already done so. (More homosexuality stories.)

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