GERMANY has backed a new law pardoning men sentenced for homosexual offences under Nazi-era legislation.

Paragraph 175 of the German penal code, which criminalised gay sex, was eventually relaxed in 1969 after tens of thousands of men were convicted. Many went to jail and some committed suicide because of the stigma against homosexuality.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the laws were “crimes of the state” and a flagrant injustice, and those convicted who are still alive will be compensated.

“It was only because of their love of men and their sexual identity that they were persecuted, punished and outlawed by the German state,” said Maas.

If the new bill is passed, the historical convictions will be annulled, and the men will receive compensation payments for their convictions and for each year spent in jail.

The German government’s decision follows other jurisdictions similarly quashing the criminal histories of men convicted under historical anti-gay laws.

The UK recently pardoned 65,000 gay and bi men who were convicted under the Sexual Offences Act until 1967.

In Australia, Victoria passed a law in 2014 allowing people to apply to have historical gay convictions expunged. Other states have moved towards similar bills.

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