Germany compensates nearly 250 people prosecuted, investigated under homosexuality law


Germany announced this week that it has already compensated nearly 250 people as part of the government’s effort to give back to individuals who were prosecuted or investigated under a Nazi-era law that criminalized homosexuality for decades. 

Germany’s Federal Office of Justice, which is allowing people to apply for compensation until July 2022, announced Monday that 249 of the 317 people who had applied so far have received payments totaling more than $1 million, according to The Associated Press

The office said that officials were still processing 14 of the applications, with a total of 18 rejected and 36 withdrawn. 

While Germany’s former law criminalizing male homosexuality was first introduced in the 1800s, a more restrictive version was enacted and carried out under the Nazi regime, and remained in place until homosexuality was decriminalized in the European country in 1969. 

However, the law was not officially removed in Germany until it was repealed in 1994, according to the AP. 

The news agency noted that under the measure, known as the Paragraph 175 law, roughly 68,300 people were convicted, with many more targeted with investigations by German authorities. 

Germany’s legislature first moved to provide compensation for those affected by the law by officially annulling thousands of convictions under Paragraph 175 in 2017, and in 2019 said it would allow those who were investigated or taken into custody to also receive government funds. 

The effort comes as other European countries that previously enacted laws barring homosexual activity have also moved to annul the convictions for people punished under the law, and provide compensation for those targeted. 

For example, the United Kingdom announced in early 2017 that it would be posthumously pardoning 65,000 gay and bisexual men who were convicted under the Sexual Offenses Act that remained in place in England and Wales until 1967. 

The pardons were issued under the “Turing Law,” named after Alan Turing, the U.K. mathematician who cracked the Enigma code used by German armed forces during World War II. 

Turing was convicted in 1952 of gross indecency for having sex with a man, after which he lost his job and was chemically castrated before he ultimately committed suicide, according to the BBC.

Tags Alan Turing Alan Turing law BBC Criminalization of homosexuality Germany Germany’s Federal Office of Justice LGBT Nazi Germany Paragraph 175 The Associated Press United Kingdom
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