Germany has pardoned over 50,000 men who were found guilty of a turn-of-the-19th-century law criminalizing homosexuality. Paragraph 175 banned gay male sex, but was used by Hitler to send thousands of gay men to concentration camps. The law, stayed on the books, even in West Germany, until 1995.
After decades of protest, those who were dehumanized by the law will be finally pardoned of their “crime” and given compensation for their treatment. Angela Merkel’s cabinet has passed a bill approving the pardons, but still requires parliamentary approval. The compensation will be 3000 euro (3,238 dollars) for every conviction, and 1,500 Euro (1,619 dollars) for every year spent in prison. According to Heiko Mass the German Justice minister: “The rehabilitation of men who ended up in court purely because of their sexuality is long overdue.”
Paragraph 175 was introduced in to Germany’s criminal code in 1871, but was enforced and broadened by the Nazis in 1935, the strict rulings sent thousands of gay men and lesbians to concentration camps.
Mass labeled the law as “blatant injustices,” adding, “We shall never be able to completely atone for the crimes of the judicial system, but we want to rehabilitate the victims…Prosecuted gay men should no longer have to live with the stigma of there convictions.”
Sadly many prisoners who survived concentration camps were set free, they were still required to serve out there two-year prison sentence under Paragraph 175. [IP]