A new memorial commemorating the tens of thousands of gays and lesbians persecuted by the Nazis was unveiled in Berlin on Tuesday.

The memorial, which cost around 600,000 Euros, is situated in Berlin’s prominent TiergartenPark and sits just across from the Jewish Holocaust Memorial.

It consists of a grey rectangular block some four meters tall. One side has a small opening through which viewers can see a black and white film of two men kissing. The film will alternate every year with a version depicting two women kissing.

“A simple kiss could land you in trouble,” reads the text which accompanies the memorial.

The memorial was designed by Danish-Norwegian artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset.

While this is not the first memorial of its kind, it has symbolic value by being erected in the centre of the city in which the policies of extermination of homosexual people along with such groups as Jews, disabled people, gypsies, Jehovah witnesses and political dissidents were conceived.

Linda Freimane, Executive Board-member of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Europe and Philipp Braun, Secretary General of ILGA, took part in the opening ceremony alongside Klaus Wowereit, the openly gay Mayor of Berlin, and Bernd Neumann, Minister of State, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

“Today, our continent is a safe place to live if you are homosexual – safe in comparison with many other places on our earth, where homosexuality is still considered a punishable crime,” said Freimane at the opening.

“You must now also be the ones who do not stay silent when other countries, which have already entered the EU or are knocking on its door, violate the rights of their own citizens. Please remind homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, racist and sexist political leaders that they too belong to a Europe, which is built on the assumption of each individual’s right to freedom, dignity, and respect and to seek his or her own happiness.”

The exact number of people who were tortured and killed during the holocaust because of their sexual orientation is unknown, but some estimates suggest that about 54,000 homosexuals were arrested by Nazis with 7,000 being killed in concentration camps.

Freimane went on to add, “I hope that the present and future mayors of Berlin and members of German governments will remember to bring their foreign guests to this memorial when they show them the beautiful city of Berlin.”

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