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Germany to Overturn Convictions for Thousands of Gay Men

2014 gay pride in Cologne, Germany
Uwe Aranas

They were charged under Paragraph 175, the criminal code the Nazis used to persecute gay men during the Holocaust.

Germany will consider vacating the convictions of thousands of gay men who were charged after the fall of the Nazi regime.

German Justice minister Heiko Maas has pledged to send a bill to parliament voiding the convictions and allowing for compensation to victims.

Paragraph 175 states that "a male who commits lewd and lascivious acts with another male or permits himself to be so abused for lewd and lascivious acts shall be be punished by imprisonment." The Nazis enforced this law in Germany and conquered territories, including France, to arrest more than 100,000 gay men. If convicted, the men were sent to work and concentration camps.

Between 1946 and 1969, 50,000 more men were convicted under the law until homosexuality was partially decriminalized in both West and East Germany. The law was repealed by 1994--but not before another 3,500 men were convicted.

While Rudolf Brazda, the last known gay Holocaust survivor, died in 2011, Maas believes that the German government must do more for the thousands of men convicted following World War II and who are still alive today.

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