German authorities have compensated almost 250 people who were affected by a law criminalising homosexuality that continued to be enforced after the Second World War.

Germany’s Federal Office of Justice has paid out compensation in 249 cases out of 317 that applied. A further 14 applications are still being processed, whilst 18 were rejected, and 36 withdrawn.

The compensation scheme offered payments of €3,000 per conviction and €1,500 for every year of jail time under those convictions.

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There is also a €500 for each investigation opened, €1,500 for every year sent in pre-trial custody and the same amount for other disadvantages related to the law. So far the ministry has paid out €860,000. 

Nazi’s Tightened Paragraph 175

Paragraph 175 law was first introduced in 1871 when Germany first unified and was a law that made “sexual acts contrary to nature” illegal.

Several attempts to remove the law during the Weimar Republic era failed and when the Nazi’s rose to power they tightened the law in 1935 by criminalising “lewd and lascivious acts” between men.

Between 1949 and 1969 up to 50,000 men were convicted under Paragraph 175. In 1968, East Germany completely removed the law and West Germany relaxed it. It was not until 1994 Germany completely repealed the law but by then an estimated 68,300 people were convicted under various forms of Paragraph 175. 

Since then the German government has taken multiple steps to ensure those affected by Paragraph 175 have been effectively compensated for.

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In 2000, the German parliament released a statement saying they regretted upholding Paragraph 175 after the war and in 2002 they annulled the convictions of gay men under Nazi rule.

Gay Reparations

It was not until 2017 that gay men convicted under Paragraph 175 post-World War II had their convictions quashed and two years later they offered payments for people who were under investigation or taken into custody but not convicted under the law.

With the current compensation scheme Germans looking to seek compensation for Parapgraph 175 have until  July 21 2022 to apply.

This decision comes months after the UK announced it was removing criminal charges made against 65,000 gay and bisexual men who were convicted under the Sexual Offences Act that criminalised private homosexual acts in England and Wales until 1967.

Last year, Tasmania’s Independent Review of Expungement of Historical Offences Act had recommended a one-off compensation payment for LGBTQI+ persons who were charged and convicted for homosexuality and cross dressing in the state.

“This payment should be available automatically on the finalisation of an application in which the secretary has determined to expunge any charge or conviction. It should not involve a hearing and should be an amount determined by the government to be appropriate,” the report had said.

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