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Germany will pay compensation to men convicted under historic gay sex laws

Nick Duffy May 11, 2016

Germany will pay compensation to men who faced convictions under the country’s historic laws banning gay sex.

The country initially banned gay sex in 1871, when a penal code was introduced criminalising homosexual acts – while they were extended under the Nazis to convict thousands of gay men and send them to concentration camps.

However, the laws were not repealed in West Germany after the fall of the Nazis, and many of the persecuted gay men were not cleared. Homosexuality was not legalised until 1968 and 1969, in East and West Germany respectively.  The age of consent was finally equalised in 1989.

The country’s government confirmed today that it would attempt to make amends for its history – confirming plans to annul the historic convictions of tens of thousands of men charged under the law.

Financial compensation will also be paid to the surviving men who were convicted under the laws. 50,000 men were convicted under the laws.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas said: “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.”

The legislation comes after pressure from LGBT organisations in the country, who have urged the changes to be brought in quickly – so that some of the men will see their names cleared in their lifetimes.

A spokesperson for the Lesbian and Gay Association said: “”Time is pressing for victims of homosexual persecution to get their unfair convictions lifted and see their dignity restored.

Though Germany is moderately progressive on LGBT rights, Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly ruled out calls to introduce equal marriage, saying: “For me, marriage is a man and a woman living together.”

In a challenge to her government, opposition parties in the upper house of the German Parliament passed a same-sex marriage bill last year – though it stands a near-zero chance of becoming law without her support.

The UK passed similar legislation in 2012. The policy was first announced by David Cameron in 2010 during a Q&A with PinkNews readers. No compensation was offered to British gay men.

More: Angela Merkel, Anti-gay, conviction, Europe, Gay, Germany, Germany, Law, LGBT, Merkel, Nazi, Sex, sexuality

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