Germany’s cabinet has approved a bill to compensate gay soldiers and veterans who were discriminated against in the past because of their sexuality.
The proposed legislation aims to offer some redress to soldiers who were convicted for homosexuality by military courts, demoted or had their military careers derailed.
If the bill is passed by the Bundestag (the German federal parliament), their convictions will be expunged and those affected will be paid a symbolic amount of €3,000 (R55,000).
“I know that we can’t make up for the personal injustice they suffered but, with the lifting of verdicts and the payment of lump-sum compensation, we want to send a signal — a small signal — of redress, to restore the dignity of these people who wanted nothing other than to serve Germany,” said Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, reported AP.
It’s estimated that around 1,000 gay soldiers will be eligible for the compensation.
The legislation comes in the wake of an apology by Kramp-Karrenbauer in September following the release of a report that laid bare the discrimination faced by gay members of the military from 1995 to 2000.
“I very much regret the practice of discrimination against homosexuals in the Bundeswehr [German armed forces], which stood for the policy of that time,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer. “I apologise to those who suffered because of it.”
In 2017, Germany passed a law to overturn the historical convictions of thousands of men who were prosecuted for being gay. It is estimated that more than 140,000 men were convicted under Paragraph 175 of Germany’s criminal code between 1871 and 1994.
Those who were still alive were offered a once-off payment of €3,000 plus an additional €1,500 for every year they spent in prison.
Earlier this year, Germany’s Parliament passed a law banning the dangerous practice of trying to ‘cure’ LGBTQ youth through so-called conversion therapy.