After decades of lobbying, victims and activists hailed a triumph in the struggle to clear the names of gay men who lived with a criminal record under article (Paragraph) 175 of the German penal code.
Germany’s article 175 outlawed “sexual acts contrary to nature … be it between people of the male gender or between people and animals”. Sex between women was not explicitly illegal.
Although it dated from 1871, it was rarely enforced until the Nazis came to power, and in 1935 they toughened the law to carry a sentence of 10 years of forced labour.
More than 42,000 men were convicted during the Third Reich and sent to prison or concentration camps where countless numbers died or were killed.
The article was finally dropped from the penal code in East Germany in 1968. In West Germany, it reverted to the pre-Nazi era version in 1969 and was only fully repealed in 1994.
“More than two decades after article 175 was finally wiped from the books, this stain on democratic Germany’s legal history has been removed,” Sebastian Bickerich, of the government’s anti-discrimination office, said in a statement.
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
Alan Turing, a British code-breaker during World War II who’s skills and mathematics genius helped lead allied forces to victory over Germany has received a royal pardon nearly 60 years after he committed suicide because of his criminal persecution and the chemical castration he was forced to suffer because of being gay by the country of England in the 1950’s.
Turing developed the Bombe, a code-breaking machine that deciphered messages encoded by German machines. His work helped change the course of the war and save thousands of lives but when his homosexuality became known he was arrested and convicted of homosexual activity, which was illegal at the time and was forces to make a decision between being chemically castrated or prison time. Two years after the castration in 1954 Turing chose ended his life at the age of 41 by eating an apple laced with cyanide.
Supporters have long campaigned for Turing to receive greater recognition for his work and official acknowledgment that his punishment was wrong.
Dr. Turing deserves to be remembered and recognized for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science,” British Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said in a statement Tuesday. “A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man.”
In 2009 a petition that garnered tens of thousands of signatures succeeded in getting an apology from then Prime Minister Gordon Brown for Turing’s treatment by the justice system in the 1950s. Brown described the Turing sentence as “appalling.”
“He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war,” he wrote, adding, “The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely.”
After the announcement of the pardon British Prime Minister David Cameron said Alan Turing was a remarkable man who played a key role in saving this country in World War II by cracking the German enigma code. “His action saved countless lives. He also left a remarkable national legacy through his substantial scientific achievements, often being referred to as the ‘father of modern computing.’ ”
The pardon, under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, goes into effect Tuesday. .