Gay men convicted under Germany’s anti-homosexuality laws may be pardoned – with the Bundestag (parliament) voting next week.
In May Heiko Maas, Germany’s Minister of Justice, announced he would push for the rehabilitation of gay men sanctioned under the Nazi’s paragraph §175.
Originally established during the German Empire, Hitler’s regime toughened the law to persecute gay men; the law’s Nazi version was kept until its mitigation in 1969 and finally abolished in 1994.
Early gay Nazi concentration camp prisoners had 175 written on their striped uniforms before it was replaced with a pink triangle symbol.
Now the Tagesschau, the country’s publicly funded news service, exclusively published details from a benchmark paper outlining how Maas intends to clear the names of up to 50,000 men.
The proposed law will be presented to and voted on by the government next week, describes the criminalization of homosexuality as ‘to a special degree against fundamental rights’.
Men who were between 14 and 18 and were convicted for consensual sex with someone from the same age range will be rehabilitated if the new law is voted in.
The same applies to adults and men above the age of 16 who were punished for consensual sex under §175.
Maas’ proposal is based on the legal guidelines for straight couples at the time.
Men convicted for sexual contacts involving violence or coercion will not be pardoned; neither will anyone who exploited a relationship of dependency.
In terms of compensation, Maas proposed three different models, according to the ARD.
An individual compensation could see men reimbursed the men’s legal costs, sentence served and any financial penalties.
Maas reportedly also proposed a fund for cases of special hardship, which would benefit those unable to provide requisite evidence of being reprobated under the anti-homosexuality laws.
Lastly, the ARD reports the minister ‘could imagine’ offering collective compensation, for example in the form of financial support for the Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation.
The foundation is, in part, dedicated to fight the discrimination of LGBTI people in Germany, but also to conduct research into and provide public education on their lives and history as citizens.
And while men who were convicted but died before they could be pardoned cannot be compensated, their life partners will, according to Maas, be able to apply on their behalf.
It is unclear whether this will be limited to men who had entered a civil partnership.
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