Germany compensates 249 persecuted over homosexuality law

BERLIN – The German authorities have compensated almost 250 people who were persecuted or investigated under a law to criminalize homosexuality from the Nazi era, which was also enthusiastically enforced after the Second World War.

The Federal Office of Justice announced on Monday that by the end of August 317 people had applied for compensation and had been paid out in 249 cases. Almost 860,000 euros (just over 1 million US dollars) have been paid out to date.

The office announced that fourteen applications were still being processed, 18 had been rejected and 36 had been withdrawn. The application deadline is July 21 of next year.

In 2017, German legislators approved the repeal of thousands of convictions under Paragraph 175, which remained in force in West Germany in its Nazi form until homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969. They cleared the way for payments of 3,000 euros per conviction plus 1,500 euros for each commenced year of prison sentence of the convicts.

In 2019, the government expanded compensation to include those investigated or detained but not convicted. It offered payments of 500 euros per investigative procedure initiated, 1,500 euros for each year of pre-trial detention and 1,500 euros for other professional, financial or health disadvantages associated with the law.

The law criminalizing male homosexuality was passed in the 19th century.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969, but the legislation wasn’t completely removed from the books until 1994.

In 2000 the German Bundestag passed a resolution in which the retention of Section 175 after the war was regretted. Two years later, it overturned the convictions of gay men during Nazi rule, but not the convictions of the post-war era.

The compensation also applies to men convicted in the communist GDR, which had a milder version of Section 175 and decriminalized homosexuality in 1968.

A total of around 68,300 people were convicted according to various forms of Section 175 in both federal states.

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