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Gay Men Convicted Under Nazi Law Paragraph 175 Will Have Records Expunged And Receive Reparations

 

Yahoo News reports:

The German government Wednesday approved plans to quash the convictions of 50,000 men sentenced for homosexuality under a Nazi-era law which remained in force after the war, and offer compensation.

The measure marks a triumph for activists after a decades-long struggle to clear the names of gay men who lived with a criminal record under Article 175 of the penal code. An estimated 5,000 of those found guilty are still alive.

The legislation was passed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet and will soon head to parliament, where her ruling right-left coalition enjoys a large majority. “Article 175 destroyed careers and ruined lives,” Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement. “The few victims who are still alive today deserve to finally have justice.”

The measure follows Britain’s so-called “Turing Law” approved in October, which offered pardons to thousands of men convicted of homosexuality before its decriminalisation in 1967. The legislation was named after World War II hero Alan Turing who was prosecuted under the law in 1952 and forced to undergo chemical castration treatment. He committed suicide two years later at the age of 41.

However the British measure, unlike Germany’s, only automatically pardoned dead people while the living must still make an individual application to have their names cleared. It also failed to provide compensation.

The Nazis believed that male homosexuals were weak, effeminate men who could not fight for the German nation. They saw homosexuals as unlikely to produce children and increase the German birthrate. The Nazis held that inferior races produced more children than “Aryans,” so anything that diminished Germany’s reproductive potential was considered a racial danger.

The police had powers to hold in protective custody or preventive arrest those deemed dangerous to Germany’s moral fiber, jailing indefinitely—without trial—anyone they chose. In addition, homosexual prisoners just released from jail were immediately re-arrested and sent to concentration camps if the police thought it likely that they would continue to engage in homosexual acts.

From 1937 to 1939, the peak years of the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, the police increasingly raided homosexual meeting places, seized address books, and created networks of informers and undercover agents to identify and arrest suspected homosexuals. On April 4, 1938, the Gestapo issued a directive indicating that men convicted of homosexuality could be incarcerated in concentration camps. Between 1933 and 1945 the police arrested over 100,000 men as homosexuals.

The sinister Paragraph 175  was in effect until 1969. Even after the concentration camps were liberated gay prisoners would be sent to sent to regular prisons to finish out the terms of their sentences.

Learn more about paragraph 175 and watch the award winning documentary of the same name by clicking HERE

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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