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Germany compensates 249 persecuted over Nazi-era law criminalizing homosexuality

German authorities compensated nearly 250 people who were prosecuted or investigated under a Nazi-era law criminalizing homosexuality that continued to be enthusiastically enforced after World War II .

The Federal Office of Justice said Monday that, up to the end of August, 317 people had requested compensation and that it had been paid in 249 cases. So far, he has spent nearly 860,000 euros (just over a million dollars).

Fourteen requests are still being processed, 18 have been rejected and 36 have been withdrawn, the office said. The deadline for submitting applications is July 21 of next year.

German lawmakers in 2017 approved the overturning of thousands of convictions under the Paragraph 175 Act, which remained in effect in West Germany in its Nazi-era form until the decriminalization of the homosexuality in 1969. They paved the way for payments of 3,000 euros per conviction, plus 1,500 euros for each year in prison started by convicts.

Germany compensates 249 persecuted over Nazi-era law criminalizing homosexuality
German Minister of Justice Heiko Maas (SPD) at the memorial for the homosexual victims of the National Socialist persecution in Berlin, Germany, 28 April 2017.

Michel Kappeler

In 2019, the government extended compensation to those under investigation or remanded in custody but not convicted. It proposed payments of 500 euros per open investigation, 1,500 euros for each year of pre-trial detention started and 1,500 euros for other professional, financial or health disadvantages linked to the law.

The law criminalizing male homosexuality was introduced in the 19th century, hardened under Nazi rule and maintained in that form by democratic West Germany, which sentenced some 50,000 men between 1949 and 1969.

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

In 2000, the German parliament approved a resolution regretting the retention of paragraph 175 after the war. Two years later, he overturned the convictions of homosexuals under the Nazi regime, but not the post-war convictions.

Compensation also applies to men convicted in Communist East Germany, which had a milder version of paragraph 175 and decriminalized homosexuality in 1968.

In total, some 68,300 people have been convicted under various forms of paragraph 175 in the two German states.