Nazi era victims of Paragraph 175
In what’s thought to be a world first, the German government plans to allocate 30 million euros to compensate men who were convicted for being gay.
According to the German media, the move was confirmed by Justice Minister Heiko Maas, who said that the compensation would depend on the circumstances of each case and the time that the men spent behind bars.
In addition to the financial reparations, the men would also have their criminal records cleared.
Maas said that he expected around 5,000 men to be eligible to apply for the compensation. A bill will be introduced in the German Parliament to formalise the process.
It is estimated that more than 140,000 men were convicted under Paragraph 175 of Germany’s criminal code between 1871 and 1994, with around 50,000 victims prosecuted after World War II.
The law, which was enforced up to 1969, was also used by the Nazi regime to arrest and send gay and bisexual men to concentration camps. As many as 10,000 died as a result of murder, ill treatment or starvation in the camps between 1933 and 1945. Paragraph 175 was only formally abolished in 1994.
Mass said that, while “we will never be able to remove these outrages committed by this country… the convicted homosexual men should no longer have to live with the black mark of a criminal conviction”.
The British government is also looking at introducing legislation to pardon men who were convicted for their homosexuality in the past. While the proposed law would expunge their criminal records, and offer an apology, there are currently no plans to pay reparations.