German government to pay €30m in compensation to gay men convicted under historical sex laws

Around 140,000 men were prosecuted under the law and 50,000 were imprisoned

Caroline Mortimer
Monday 10 October 2016 06:51 BST
Comments
The law stopped being enforced on both sides of the wall in the late 1960s but wasn't formally abolished till 1994. Pictured: a gay couple stroll next to a remaining section of the Berlin Wall in 1993
The law stopped being enforced on both sides of the wall in the late 1960s but wasn't formally abolished till 1994. Pictured: a gay couple stroll next to a remaining section of the Berlin Wall in 1993 (Getty Images)

The German government has announced it will compensate more than 50,000 men were jailed for being gay.

The plan will see €30m set aside to compensate the men who were imprisoned for their sexuality under the terms of Paragraph 175 which formally remained a part of Germany’s criminal code until 1994.

In total, more than 140,000 were convicted under the law in both West and East Germany until it fell into disuse by the end of the 1960s.

Homosexual acts were first criminalised in 1871 when Germany was formed but the law was strengthened during the Nazi era when the regime used it to convict thousands of gay men and send them to concentration camps.

After the war men were still prosecuted and often faced losing their homes and jobs when their sexual orientation was discovered.

The convictions of those sentenced during the Nazi era where expunged in 2002 but until now there had been no pardon for those prosecuted after the war.

The draft law will be formally announced this month after the initial announcement was made earlier this year, Pink News reported.

Germany’s justice minister, Heiko Maas, said each case for compensation would be decided individually and sentence duration will be taken into consideration.

He said he expected more than 5,000 men to make claims.

“We will never be able to remove these outrages committed by this country but we want to rehabilitate the victims.

“The convicted homosexual men should no longer have to live with the black mark of a criminal conviction,” he added.

It comes just weeks after The Independent revealed that Prime Minister Theresa May announced she was “committed” to introducing an “Alan Turing” law pardoning gay men for previous convictions for gross indecency.

The law is named after the pioneering mathematician who helped the British break the German’s Enigma code during the Second World War but was persecuted for his homosexuality afterwards.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in