Germany finally pays long-overdue compensation over Nazi-era homosexuality ban

Two women hold the rainbow pride flag as they take part in the Queerschutz Now march in Berlin, Germany

Germany has compensated 249 people who were prosecuted or investigated under a Nazi-era law outlawing homosexuality.

The country’s Federal Office of Justice announced on Monday (13 September) that 317 people applied for remuneration for their persecution, the Independent reported.

Thus far, the ministry said it paid out compensation worth nearly €860,000 (over £732,000) in 249 cases.

The German office said fourteen applications are still being processed, eighteen were rejected and thirty-six were withdrawn.

The so-called “Paragraph 175 law” was introduced to the country’s criminal code in 1871 after Germany was unified, according to DW. It remained law until the late 60s, and made “unnatural and sexual offences” between men punishable by up to six months in prison.

Under the Nazi rule, the persecution of LGBT+ people intensified. In 1935, the law criminalised “lewd and lascivious acts” between same-sex people.

The BBC reported this tightening of the law resulted in tens of thousands of queer people being imprisoned, and many died in concentration camps.

Even after the fall of the Nazis, the vile law remained part of the criminal code in East and West Germany.

In the 1960s, East Germany scrapped the law, and the West relaxed the ban on gay acts. The anti-gay law was repealed by the unified German government in 1994.

Euronews reported German lawmakers annulled thousands of convictions under the reviled law in 2017. Anyone found guilty could apply to receive payments of €3,000, plus €1,500 for every year of jail time served.

In 2019, the German government eventually offered payments for people who were under investigation or taken into custody but not convicted under the law.

The Independent reported that an estimated 68,300 people were convicted under various forms of the Paragraph 175 law in both East and West Germany.

The deadline for any new applications for compensation from the German government is 21 July 2022, according to Euronews.